Print Vs Google: Aggregator Cries Foul Against… Aggregator

No doubt you’ve seen this news item concerning a real estate magnate who has just got into the newspaper business:

It’s time for newspapers to stop giving away their stories to popular search engines such as Google, according to Samuel Zell, the real estate magnate whose bid for Tribune Co. was accepted this week

The blogsphere have been largely dismissive of Zells views, not to mention his apparent lack of understanding about how Google works.

If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?” Zell said during the question period after his speech. “Not very.”

How wrong can someone be?

Google would be just as profitable, because Google makes money from ad serving on search results, not news aggregation. And Google doesn’t “steal” content. Granted, some of the Google audience may use Google because of the news service, but so long as there are a few news sites publishing, including state services such as the BBC, Google will just aggregate those instead.

Google would also buy news feeds and stories (if they don’t do so already) – from the same place as newspapers buy theirs. And crosswords. Weather. TV guides etc. Then, the cheapest, most effective news aggregator wins. If there is one thing that Google knows best, it is content aggregation. Newspapers used to be the most effective aggregators, but then online happened.

Perhaps Zell is considering going into direct competition? A news portal? Can he get all the newspapers onside, and at the same time, take those newspapers out of Google? Will people pay, when they’ve shown little inclination to do so before?

I doubt it.

Will the visitors come in greater numbers than the number presently coming from Google News?

I doubt it.

Where are they going to come from, exactly? Myspace?

And how much will that traffic cost?

The newspapers may desire control, but I think that particular horse has long since bolted.

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