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Google May Charge for News Searches

 7:11 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

In an article [telegraph.co.uk] in the Telegraph.co.uk, Omid Kordestani (senior vp for Google) said:

"The fees are being earmarked for sections of the website such as Google News...

"We may experiment with ways of monetising after we have got the service right. Charging would be one approach. So far we have found it better to keep the service free and charge for targetted advertising."



 7:15 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


The moment they do that (charge for people to do a search) then they are toast. They will die 10x faster than napster & just be a footnote in web history.

I can't imagine them ever being that dumb. Nobody is ever going to pay to use a search engine.


 7:18 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Note though that this article was about Google News, not websearch. Saying that "we may experiment" isn't a promise. Webmasterworld may decide to go subscription, right? ;)

Just curious--what do people think of news so far?


 7:21 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you read that, it seems it is just that news search they are thinking of charging for. I'd have to think Google all kinds of stupid, or wonder what drugs they are on, if they think they would make money for web searches. And, I really have doubts they could actually get many to pay monthly for that news search. Makes more sense to use ad banners or such. Or, use the news search as a loss leader to get people to use the web search.


 7:27 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Just curious--what do people think of news so far?

Kinda nice. I recently had to use it to try and find obituaries for Bob Wallace, the #9 employee of Microsoft. This was important to me, as Bob Wallace in retirement was one of the dominant posters, along with me, in certain Usenet newsgroups. I was able to find these quick. The irony is it was the Google Usenet search that could have been used to find the first reports of his death. Someone else in the newsgroup posted about it, and checking to see if this was a forged post got quick confirmation by e-mail from his wife. :( His death didn't make any papers until over 24 hours later. The Google Usenet search service is almost as important to me as the web search.


 7:30 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

As a sidebar, with crystal-ball gazing the theme, is this so improbable, not just for News, but general search?

I wouldn't have a problem with a yearly payment to use Google, or a similarly good service. Micro-payments don't seem to be hurtling along any time now, but I wouldn't have a problem with them either.

Clearly, from a users point of view, the sums would need to be tiny, but they would add up on the other side. Google provide quality, quality that saves me time, and I'm prepared to pay for that in any other arena, why not search?

I'm slightly playing devils advocate, but only slightly. If the price were right, I would pay a yearly subscription fee to use Google search.

There, cards on table. Mat


 7:35 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Brett Interesting article find.

GoogleGuy re news: never used that part of Google yet.
News input is not something I need more of. I (like I suspect many here) already have numerous 24/7 news tv channels available plus online access to international news providers. I suppose it might be good for detailed research and will probably get around to giving it a try it for that as that is an area of interest.

Re daily news: there is already too much which (in the english language at least) is too closely controlled by entities with political (or country) bias to get complete views / feeds into some of the interesting issues. If you could categorise multilingual news feeds by bias (translate accurately into english) and join the topics back together, that might be very interesting :-)


 7:40 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Change is change.

I notice Overture (aka GoTo) and Yahoo are still going strong and no one would ever paid to get listed a few years ago either.

Real Player same thing - it was/is free but they make a healthy profit at about 100 million per year.

I think the determining factors are quality and marketing -- if Google's quality of results becomes far superior than anything else under the sun and they market it right (someday) people will pay.

A decade into the search engine game isn't that much history -- in 1903, man took flight but the Wright Brothers didn't really envision commercial air travel as a big money maker and it was close to 50 years before a true market was apparent.

Good products and services die every day while at the same time "crap" flourishes.

If you market right... anything is possible.


 7:49 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I used to use the old news (the list of news sites) and found it very useful - so it was a nice suprise to see the new news format.

So far I have found it very useful - it does a good job of picking out the "news" from the many sources crawled. Already it is my first destination every morning.

But to be honest I wouldn't pay for it, there are too many news resources on the web that would serve my needs for free. If Google news became subscription then I would just go to the BBC website for news.


 8:24 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

If the BBC start charging for news, and The Guardian, and Independent and The Times and... every other decent source _and_ Google undercuts them then I _might_ consider paying for it.

As for the quality of the current service... 'Yankees Facing an Early Exit' is the leading article... not exactly of great world significance!

Visit Thailand

 8:43 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy - you asked what we thought of the Google News.

I will be blatantly honest and say I ignore it, I am not interested in it in the slightest.

when I go to Google it is not for news it is to conduct a search. In fact I regard it as annoying distraction that sits above the results of my search which means I have to scroll down a little, and the more news there is the more I dislike it.

For news I will go to my favourite news sites, BBC etc.

I would prefer for Google to stick with what they are good with and do the news like you do images, if people want it then let them search under the news search, but I find it very annoying that when I do a search for X, there are news articles above the results.

I am not trying to be rude but that is my honest take on it.


 8:47 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

"when I go to Google it is not for news it is to conduct a search. In fact I regard it as annoying distraction that sits above the results of my search which means I have to scroll down a little, and the more news there is the more I dislike it."

This is not what GoogleGuy is asking about. I agree the news that shows up at the top of the search results is a bit irrelevant, but this question refers to the new NEWS tab on the google home page. It used to be a link under the search entry field.


 8:54 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ahhh. My father rang me up about that last week saying Google may start charging for web searches. I said, Pops, Google is never going to charge for Web searches - just for the advanced Google News thing.

It's a great service but charging would be a bad idea. I pay my TV License fee already to get my news on the BBC Web site ;)


 9:16 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

nutsandbolts so do I pay the BBC licence but the BBC, CNN or any other significant country news provider are selling ratings (yes even the BBC) they select news they think you will click into and will retain you to justify their charges .. not necessarily things it is important you read. They also in general tend to support their national view.

All these organisations (because of the individuals in them) have political and country biases as do we (oops getting ot now). Thats where imvho a news amalgamating service can offer a benefit, the story and evidence from 10 or more different international viewpoints ..

You only have compare the symapthetic view of Palestinians in the BBC against the corresponding symapthetic view for Israel in CNN. Both are biased by various views, is either ever more than an opinion on unfolding events?

Whether google could present a balanced view of world events, from an automated system (I assume), without getting up the noses of the very news providers they would be taking the data from, and at the same time persuade us to pay for it, is a different question .. on which I will leave you to ponder cause Ive work to do :-)


 9:16 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Google Guy... my experience makes me a very good lab rat about Google news. I do a lot of news searching to add a couple links to articles on a widget news page of my own. Google news is one of the thirty or so places I go each day.

Google News is quite good on speed. Articles are listed promptly. I search by date as opposed to relevance firstly because I search every day so I only care about the newest items, but also because "relevance" is not that good. Minimally I'd make "sort by date" the default.

A minor problem I've thought about is in my area there are two crap sites that dominate the results. I don't know how they do it, but they always get fairly current results with articles posted for some time already. I've set my search to ignore these two sites, but they somehow have exploited a weakness in the news search to always appear fresh.

Semi-humorous note, I've bookedmarked a news search withthese two sites on -ignore... a friend emails that he did a Google news search and found one of MY articles on one of the sites... so I remove the -ignore and do asearch, and Google News finds TWENTY of my articles they plagiarized! (I did report this to the news/abuse email address.)

Anyway, News does NOT pick up all the articles on my topic that I find at other news search sources, BUT I have not found a single site that does better than Google News.

Visit Thailand

 9:18 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

NovaW - my reply is applicable to that tab as well. Please also note that I need news for my job, but I dnot use any of these search engine news services. I find them pointnless and distracts away from the value of what I think a search engine is for.

Google IMHO became succesful as it was the first to do just search, in a quick and efficient manner, Yahoo started adding any and everything, clogging up its pages but Google was there with a search box and just results it was wonderful.

I really hope that Google realises this and sticks with what works, as I do fear the more they add (i.e the news above results etc) could distract away from what has made it a success.


 9:33 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Generally I'd not object to pay for a decent news service.
Problem for the time being is there are similar or better services for free.
Google's news service is rather limited - Fast's serves me better, not only because it's not solely focused on US news.

>Nobody is ever going to pay to use a search engine
I would for sure. A first rate personalised web/news search is a service I happily would pay for.

One point I keep wondering about: Google or Fast or NorthernLight who all do news search are in a way dependant on content provided by others.
If Google would take money for a news search, wouldn't major news companies start charging Google?

How likely is such a scenario?


 9:56 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I love the new news feature but not sure I could justify paying for it as I don't use it as a business thing, rather a nice way to see the world affairs from a few different angles


 9:57 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Google's news service is rather limited - Fast's serves me better, not only because it's not solely focused on US news.

I wish Google would allow the user to replace the current US option to UK or whatever country the user wants. Now that would be sweet.


 10:17 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I so far like it, and it is now my current home page. I'm not sure whether I'd pay to use the service though to be honest although I would most definately join if it went to a log-in model

[edited by: indigojo at 10:20 am (utc) on Oct. 5, 2002]


 10:19 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

there is no such thing as a free lunch, we must stop to think everything on the web must stay free.

i run a mobile text messaging community and we switched from free to fee in april. everybody thought we'd be toast two months later but we aren't. (we have 90,000 paying subscribers, 120,000 e-commerce customers and one million of users who still use the free parts. i must admit we lost 40% of our reach though.)

i'd highly welcome if services like google started B2C services, by that they'd help to build more positive attitude to these things!


 10:21 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hate to say this.. but yahoo news rocks! Although they didnt have the whole story on Bobby Valentine which was suprising.. not that the Mets are any good.. We all know the Yanks ROCK! But anyway.. Yahoo has pictures to go with the stories which is cool... visually it is more appealing.. just my half a cent at this un godly hour on a weekend..


 10:31 am on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

there is no such thing as a free lunch, we must stop to think everything on the web must stay free.

I agree. But I pay for my BBC News, and I've also sent money to the guys behind The Inquirer and countless other smaller publishers. I pay the source ;)


 12:27 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

hmmm...I guess some of that whole plan would be dependent on how well the news organizations received it. Trying to monetize content that they have not been able to monetize may just get the googlebot banned.

Kicking "mom and pop" in the pants is one thing, but I'm not sure you want to alienate the news media.


 12:43 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


I like your new news service and use at least once a day. Being able to search new sources is excellent.
However, I could never think of a situation where I would want to pay for your service. Sorry.
Ads are the way to go.


 2:06 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Regarding how I like it, I have started to use it over the past week and I like it a lot. A few comments regarding usability ...

1) Allow search by date VS relevancy to be identified from the first search. I can only do an initial search by relevancy and then afterwards change to search by date. I found the search by date to be my preference and the search by relevancy to be a little annoying when you use the search every day. When I search news everyday ... search by date provides me what I want, while search by relevancy typically shows me the articles I saw yesterday.

2) Perhaps, put a search box at the bottom of the page also. You scroll to the bottom, don't see what you are looking for and then have to return to top to perform a new search. I think you are already familiar with this concept ;)

3) I "wish" I could save my favorite searches for future use. If I could do this, I would have my own personal newspaper of favorite subjects. This would be just like your major categories (World, US, Business), but instead I would define what those major category searches are.

Overall, I like the news search a lot. I doubt I'd pay for it though unless it provided something I couldn't find anywhere else. The price point would be a factor, and I would consider it right now if it was low (think $5 adwords setup fee). My preference would be targeted advertising though.


 6:36 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've been a reader of the Yahoo news pages for a long time and am getting used to the Google news page but haven't fully switched yet. Yahoo took a step backward by reducing the amount of content on their headlines page; I like the fact that the Google news page is very dense and simple. This spoils me, though, because I sometimes follow a link to the full story and have the jarring experience of going to a very different layout that is very slow loading; I confess it has sometimes made me not want to follow a link because I dreaded a slow, clunky page at the other end. Maybe Google could encourage those news sources to simplify, simplify, simplify.... ;) By contrast, the Yahoo news page is all "in house" and so I know what sort of page I'm going to get at the other end of the link.

An organizational point: I don't think the Sci/Tech category is well defined. It really should be split into a Tech category (which is half business stories about the computer industry), and a Science/Environment category - that is something many people would welcome.


 7:50 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

GG.. personal view..

1. The coverage is good, but some big traditional news organizations domainate in searches. I like finding news from non-traditional but authoritative souces. Google has made a good start with this with the search, but i have to scroll down a bit from the mainstream stuff to find the gems

2. The main page (with the pretty piccies) is too US focused. The categories are very general. I dont really care for US sport, entertainment celebrities or such. I presume that with a paid service, a subscriber can do a lot of customization to create their own "views"

3. For a reasonable price I would certainly consider subscribing, but often i find that being in a developing country, paying a US dollar price is just not affordable. If its over 20 USD a year, I would have to stick with other services.


 8:04 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Wasn't that one of the complaints in that Danish newspaper case:

About a news service spidering a news site and repackaging links to it for profit?

Google might have a problem, especially in the EU, with that.

As a news search user, I am not going to pay to search. I would just go someplace else.


 2:31 am on Oct 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Interesting round of replies--thanks for saying what you think. Anybody else?

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