September 14th, 2009
Google knows a lot about the future of news — more than many publishers. It’s evident in Google’s new product, Fast Flip, which allows news consumers to “flip” through news stories. What’s striking about Fast Flip is that Google is innovating precisely where publishers used to lead innovation.
Fast Flip is a new package for news.
The publishing business has always been about packaging content. Newspapers. Magazines. Newsletters
In digital media, on the web, the news package is now a function of software — which is why Google is innovating precisely where publishers are not.
Fast Flip is, more accurately, an attempt to create a new UI for news — a better way to consume publishers’ content than publishers provide on their own sites.
Most publishers are focused on how to charge for news. But there’s very little talk about how to innovate the packaging of news, much less a new UI for news. There’s very little talk about how people consume news on the web, about the value of aggregating articles from multiple sources, about solving consumers’ problems rather than publishers’ problems.
That’s why Google is taking the lead on figuring out how to create the new news package, and why they will continue to control the lucrative front end of distribution, while publishers are left with far less profitable back end of content creation.
Google is sharing revenue with publishers because Fast Flip goes way beyond linking to actually partially reproducing entire web pages. And publishers will have to be content with the revenue that Google shares.
Unless they finally decide to compete on the real playing field that will determine the future of news and publishing.