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December 5, 2009

Google Launches Limited Clicks for Subscription news

In a fight its most often the smaller guys blinks first,Specially when you know that you control the internet gateway. But in a fight between the gated community and free democratic information that signifies the web,it seems that Google has finally accepted concerns from a Rupert Murdoch Lobby by launching a new service that limits free News content to the users.

Google announced a new policy Wednesday that allows news publishers to limit the amount of subscription content that Internet users can access for free from Google News.

In the existing program called "First Click Free," Google allows participating publishers who offer a subscription-based news service to display the first page of an article that a user accessed through Google News for no charge. If the user then clicks on another link on that page, the user will be taken to a page that requires a registration or subscription.

will also begin to label paid content as "subscription" on its Google News service.

"These are two of the ways we allow publishers to make their subscription content discoverable, and we're going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods," said Google senior business product manager Josh Cohen in a blog post. "After all, whether you're offering your content for free or selling it, it's crucial that people find it. Google can help with that."

After discussions with publishers, Google updated the program Wednesday to limit the total number of free clicks for pay news services to five per day for each user. Previously, users could access an unlimited number of subscription-based articles from Google News.

The move comes in response to to online newspapers and publishers considering whether to keep articles away from Google's news and Web searches. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp , which offers much of its content on a subscription-only basis, reportedly considered restricting Google from displaying its news articles.

This might have three implications for Publishers that prefers to be within the gated community

1) Users will move away to other sources. News is a commoditized item today and users ultimately would not hesitate to gravitate to other sources that would provide the same information

2) Open source standards of the web that thrives on user generated and user interaction via social media would completely move away from the " So called niche publishers" that treats their content as a holy grail of sorts. If you cannot involve your users with your news.. be prepared to loose your audience for good.You have lost them offline.. now be prepared to loose them online too !

3) Limiting or Restricting users access by creating "walls" around the web is akin to killing the patient ,rather than the diseases.. Instead of trying to treat Google as the sinner,publishers must learn to change the way they report online.. The same mistakes was done by many email providers when they got paid and finally their obituary was written in black and white .One of the Company that believed that users was ready to pay to get their email was 123India which believed that users would prefer to pay,rather than have a cluttered inbox, with banners and pop ups. By thinking this as a first mover advantage, the company foolishly went paid, by promising customized mailbox, a move that made them history ..(the site still exists.. but its in its dealthbed)

The internet was created free, will remain free specially for an item as commoditized as news.. The mandarins that run news papers and magazines can cry hoarse against search engines and lobby against everything free.. However they would be wise to understand that creating "Walls" will further alienate their users who has stopped reading news papers and magazines in the real worlds. By providing another " walled garden" be prepared to loose them online too !