September 29th, 2004, 13:02 PM
wondered why google news has been in beta mode for three years running?
Ever wondered why google news has been in beta mode for three years running?
When users click on the links on Google News pages, they are taken directly to the publisher of the material, as they are when they click on thumbnails of photos. Glitches aside -- like when its computers misfire and Google News runs the wrong photo with an article, or it accidentally ignores an important breaking news story completely -- it's akin to browsing newspaper headlines, lead paragraphs and photos at a newsstand, and choosing which stories you want to read.
With a clean, no-nonsense interface and existing search engine traffic, Google News didn't take long to attract a loyal following and elbow its way into the top-10 news sites, pulling in some 6 million unique visitors a month. Of course, executives at rival online news publishers couldn't help but wonder why they shouldn't just imitate Google's model and pare their budgets to the bone.
As it turns out, however, Google has a problem that is nearly as complex as its algorithms. It can't make money from Google News.
So while other online publishers like Yahoo News and MSNBC earn tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year and continue to grow, Google News remains in beta mode -- three years after it launched -- long after most of the bugs have been excised.
The reason: The minute Google News runs paid advertising of any sort it could face a torrent of cease-and-desist letters from the legal departments of newspapers, which would argue that "fair use" doesn't cover lifting headlines and lead paragraphs verbatim from their articles. Other publishers might simply block users originating from Google News, effectively snuffing it out.
September 29th, 2004, 13:35 PM
Old and Cranky