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Im convinced news.google.com will be subscription based soon. But they need some "killer features" to do it, (without reducing its simplicity). One way is localisation and/or reducing the US worldview. Another "killer feature" is being able to view articles of the usually registered-users-only-can-read-full-article sources. I beleive they already have an agreement with one source (NYT?) to do that.
a) RSS feed options
b) Alerts by e-mail for new content
c) Deeper archives
d) The ability to do date-based searching
e) An index of sources so you can use the source: syntax without a lot of trial and error
f) The ability to create a custom search page so you could group sources quickly and easily
I think you are on the right track what might be worthwhile for them to ask some money for.
the only google source I found (the bottom): [google.com...]
and now for the non-english languages..
I suspect that the light versions (eg. UK) [news.google.co.uk] will be browsed from trains and taxis across large parts of the English speaking world.
I notice that on the page vitaplease links, news.google.com is listed as United States.
I'm sure that non-English will happen one day. Google are obviously working hard on this, well done. :-)