First off, I think Google Fast Flip is very cool and I’ll probably use it myself. But after reading the press on it, I’ve been surprised that no one has connected the dots on what this means for Google and for the Newspaper industry. Yes, Google is trying to solve for “Speed” and trying to “make the world a better place” (from the TechCrunch 50 video) but in all seriousness, they’re also a business trying to make big bets – and revolutionizing the newspaper industry is a big opportunity. Here’s what I gleaned from their presentation:
1) The unit of news is now the article – not the newspaper – the source is almost irrelevant now – Google is the source! (not a bad thing, just a reality)
2) One of the presenters said that Fast Flip learns from what you read – i.e. “the more you use it, the more it learns” – say hello to personalized news. Why would I ever buy a newspaper again that is filled with stories I may or may not like? Google learns what I like and can serve me a custom built newspaper, instantly.
3) The “like” feature is begging to be connected to my social network. Once I have a newspaper of stuff Google knows “I Like,” how about telling me what “my friends like?”
4) They launched with a pilot group of newspapers, but the reality is, everyone will have to opt-in soon (or what, stop indexing their site?). And the next step is probably to give Google the complete feeds of their articles – no real reason to click-through to the publishers site – that’s slow and clunky. And since Google also owns the ads, now we’re talking about a completely new revenue model for news.
I really like this move by Google and think the newspaper industry is in need of a reset. But there’s good and bad here. Google is primed to be the delivery mechanism for all news information. They are gathering tremendous amounts of personal information about your likes and dislikes – that I’m sure can help in their ad targeting and search businesses.
Google will also be the ones deciding what’s on the “front page” – should make for some interesting conflict of interest discussions. Newspapers will likely be re-built as skeleton crews of reporters, pumping out individual stories in hopes of having it appear in Google. Should be fun to watch this unfold over the next couple of years.