As you might have heard, there is a new application coming out of Google Labs, called Fast Flip. I’m not going to explain what it does, go and see for yourself. But I got exactly this question in my Facebook News Feed. So, here is what I think:
At the face of it, I’m not impressed. I use RSS feed reader to aggregate news feeds, including one coming out of Google News, not to mention Twitter, Facebook and Friend Feed. That’s pretty much all I need to keep my finger on the pulse.
On the second thought, however, it really does seem interesting. Not so much as a piece of technology (image browser? c’mon) but as an indicator of where Google is heading. Let’s put the pieces together:
- Google has been at odds with the copyright owners for years now (remember Google News lawsuits and the recent discussion around Google Books settlement?). Finally, striking a deal with the publishers and stopping the legal battles might not be bad for Google after all. And could improve Google’s position vis-a-vis Amazon.
- Google has also unveiled a plan to roll out a system of micropayments (as a part of Google Checkout) some time next year. This system will be well-positioned to become a standard for charging for content online. Apparently Google is reaching out to publishers and helping them to collect the pennies millions of Internet users might be willing to pay for copyrighted material. Google will get their share, of course. A hint: think of iTunes and Amazon Kindle…
- Google Checkout will also be used for selling content via Google Books for which Google needs good relationship with the publishers anyway.
What this all says to me is: Google wants to help copyright owners in order to create symbiotic relationship in which everybody gets their share of profits. Using their scale Google will create an ecosystem for paid content in the Internet (or should I say the ecosystem?). Regardless of whether the book is sold for $10 or a news article for a penny. It is volume that counts. Which puts them on a collision course with Amazon, obviously but goes far beyond that. When it comes to paid digital content distribution the leaders today are Apple with iTunes and Amazon with Kindle. Here enters Google… without manufacturing, logistics, warehouses, etc. It’s going to be exciting to see how it develops, but expect there will be more digital content and less paper in your life soon.