A lot cheaper than developing it themselves, but hey, 10G's is 10G's

"Step right up, programmers and hex-slingers: Google's got $10,000 for the most creative coder among you. The geeks'-choice search engine is sponsoring its "First Annual Google Programming Contest," offering $10,000 to the person or team that can come up with the best software program for compressing, organizing, linking or otherwise manipulating a mass of raw search data.

In return, Google gets to keep the idea--forever. The company won't pay any royalties, although the winner can sell it to anyone else who wants it. On a Web site notice announcing the contest, Google says it's doing it for fun, "in celebration of more than three years of delivering the best search experience on the Internet." Any wildly profitable ideas that come out of it would just be a fringe benefit. "We wanted to give people, especially students, a chance to do fun stuff themselves," said Uls Hoelze, a "Google Fellow" who is helping lead the project. "We want to encourage people to be creative..."