So it begins. If you haven’t noticed already, certain newspaper sites require a subscription to view their online content. The ones I’ve noticed have been News Corp. properties. Unfortunately for News Corp., other news entities publish the content for free. Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., is rumored to be in discussion with Microsoft in an effort to “un-list” their newspaper content on Google. TheWall Street Journal and the New York Post would no longer show up in Google search results.
Microsoft is supposedly contacting other online publishers to follow suit, although there’s been no proof. Both Microsoft and News Corp. have refused to comment on the subject, which usually means something is afoot.
Microsoft’s Bing has, thus far, gone bonk in the so-called search engine wars, and News Corp’s MySpace was crushed by Facebook. Murdoch, as owner of 29 newspaper properties, has a lot at stake in a rapidly declining print-reading world. You'd think Rupert Murdoch, as smart as he is, would have gotten out of the print business, but he soldiers on, claiming Google steals the content from his newspapers and gives it away. Until recently, all of his newspapers were distributing content for free.
The pending battle, if true, is akin to the dinosaurs gathering together in an effort to stop the swiftly approaching comet. While the Internet-using world is moving toward application and site freedom, the companies that have depended on selling physical, hard goods, like newspapers and computer systems, are teaming up to stop this extinction-level event. Last week, Google released the code for Chrome OS, their cloud operating system to developers for free. On Techcrunch, there are instructions for creating your own “Chrome.” Again, it is for free.
While I’m truly saddened by the future demise of print, it’s disappointing to see these cheap efforts by formidable companies against a competitor that has out-thought and out-competed them at every turn. To the untrained eye, it looks like Microsoft and News Corp. have resorted to last-ditch tactics, giving the impression that they may be in a more precarious situation than we thought. Rather than adapting to the fight, they’ve decided, instead, to swim out against the Tsunami.