Will News Corp. shut out Google for a Bing bribe?
There's been a fair amount of chatter among journalism types this week about the possibility of News Corp. -- whose chief executive Rupert Murdoch seems to have a visceral hatred of Google's ability to make money off Web-search advertising -- blocking Google from indexing its properties and instead letting Microsoft pay it for the privilege.
As recent reports in the Financial Times and the New York Times explain, under this deal Microsoft would pay News Corp. an unspecified sum to stop Google from indexing its sites -- an option the Web search giant and every other legitimate search engine has long supported -- and then make its stories available through its Bing search site.
Understand that I love competition and I think Bing is a pretty good search engine, but I doubt this will work for either Microsoft or News Corp.
(I know Murdoch's media properties -- including Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal -- aren't everybody's favorite sources, but let's set aside that angle to treat this as a business proposition.)
First, Bing's news search is extremely thin compared with Google's. Just getting a few high-profile publications on Bing won't help when you'd still need to turn to Google to find most other news items.
Second, not even Microsoft can afford to bribe enough newspapers and magazines to put Google News out of business.
Third, for a newspaper, this strategy would first involve giving up an enormous chunk of its existing traffic. Last month, Google fielded just over 65 percent of Web searches in the United States and Microsoft handled just under 10 percent, according to ComScore's data.
Fourth, this would break a basic aspect of how the Web works. Not only are there potential regulatory issues, as this BusinessWeek article outlines, but readers accustomed to a Web without privileged perspectives might not be interested in figuring out which site they have to use to find which stories -- not when they can stick with the one they already use.
(BW's story also suggests that News Corp. hopes to pressure Google into giving it a better renewal deal on its expiring contract to place ads on News' fading MySpace social network.)
Fifth, in my experience, the richer and more powerful the media mogul, the less of a clue they seem to have about the Internet. I have a hard time seeing Murdoch's venting as any more grounded in reality than the logic-deprived bleating of the Associated Press's leadership.
There are arguments to be made for News Corp. trying this experiment, but to me the most convincing one comes from media critic Jay Rosen. A story in Canada's Financial Post quotes him as giving News backhanded credit for taking a little initiative instead of just complaining:
I'm tired of newspaper people whining about Google and if they really feel as aggrieved as they say, then we need somebody to take some action and let's see what happens. I think it would be a great experiment to watch and learn from.
Doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of the concept, does it?
I have no specific idea how The Post's management might feel about this proposition, though I suspect/hope we're not interested in it. But I'm more interested in what you, the reader, think. Would you switch your search habits to follow your usual news sources? Or do you have better things to do than figure out these high-level corporate squabbles?
November 24, 2009; 2:16 PM ET
Categories: Policy and politics , The business we have chosen
Save & Share: Previous: Another helping of Thanksgiving tech-support tips
Next: Another tech holiday shopping season begins
Posted by: wiredog | November 24, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: strollingbones | November 24, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gzillasam1 | November 24, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tyelctu | November 24, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jfehribach | November 24, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ummhuh1 | November 25, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Blue02dude | November 25, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: killick | November 25, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rk2009 | November 26, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Astrogal | November 26, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.