Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Google Fast Flip Rethinks the Magazine

There's no grand plan here, nothing more to this other than learning.

-Martin Nisenholtz, Senior VP of Operations, New York Times

In Staci D. Kramer, "Google Fast Flip Goes Live," PaidContent.Org, September 15, 2009

Google Labs released an experimental program it calls Fast Flip, the purpose of which is to allow users to quickly move ("flip") through the first pages of various articles in newspapers and magazines that Google's software has arranged by topic. What makes this different from Google News or from simply using Google to search for a topic is that Fast Flip allows readers to actually read the first page of an article before having to wait for it to load. If the reader likes it, he or she can continue by clicking so that the whole thing comes onto the screen. If the reader doesn't want to read that one but wants to stay with the theme, the reader can move to the next article which also has the first page visible for easy reading.

Google secured the permission of many web publishers so that it could use their pages and logos directly on the Fast Flip main page instead of having text links to them. Google also agreed to share any future advertising revenue with the publishers if they place Google-brokered ads on the pages that show up on Fast Flip. As the Times' Nisenholtz notes, though, at this point the venture is experimental, not moneymaking.

Just as Google News encourages people to rethink the meaning of a newspaper and its potential for personalization, so Google Fast Flip promises to challenge the meaning of a magazine by unmooring articles from their original locations, displaying them in a page-flip manner with articles on a similar topic, and even allowing people to personalize this process and share it with others. Traditional magazine firms will watch this development nervously. Depending on how big they are and how they react, it may eventually help or hurt their bottom line.

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