The Web is aTwitter with talk about the possible deal that Microsoft is negotiating with News Corp (one of the world’s largest news agencies) to bring exclusivity of news to Big M’s rival to Google: Bing.
It’s a pretty signature Microsoft move, really. They’ve done it several times in the past, buying, pre-empting, or outright bullying into non-existence their rivals as the Seattle Giant vies for ownership of every sector it competes in. This deal would have MS paying News Corp (owner of the Wall Street Journal, The Sun, and more) to de-list themselves and block Google’s indexing, making Bing the all-but-exclusive search outlet for News Corp’s sites.
Other, quiet talks are also said to be pending, with the Financial Times reporting that Microsoft may be approaching other big online publishers with the same proposition.
These deals aren’t new, of course. Rumors have been going around for over a week regarding this and Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates have been talking before about similar deals. Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan doesn’t think that this deal would make much of a difference to the Web anyway. The Web being, well, a web, can’t be dammed off or bottlenecked in a traditional sense. He points out that he learned about a recent WSJ article not through Google, but through a tweet.
What everyone from Microsoft to News Corp and all the rest are jealous of, it seems, is the fat profit margins that Google shows. Google literally has no overhead for its content. Everything it indexes, it gets for free. It’s only costs are the tools required to do the indexing. In dollars and cents, those tools aren’t cheap, but in terms of percentages, they are almost free.
Further, what Microsoft and News Corp seem to be ignoring is the one facet of Google that they can’t stop with their old-mode thinking: innovation. Google’s primary asset is its ability to innovate and build solutions to get around problems.
If MS and NC do pen this deal and suddenly the WSJ is off limits to Google, what is to stop Google from indexing tweets that include links to the WSJ? Or from indexing Bing itself? Or using some other trick to get around the blockade?
Information is always disseminated, no matter how hard people try to stop it. With the Internet as an enabler, this is even more so and in near real-time quite often. When hackers hit the Hadley Climate Centre in the UK last week, it was all over the ‘Net within hours. The main stream media didn’t pick it up for days. This happens all the time.
So how is blocking Google from the Wall Street Journal going to hurt anyone but the WSJ?