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Archive for November 24th, 2009

Who really loses in a News Corp./Bing deal?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I’m not a business person. That’s obvious. But I’ve read recently about how News Corp./Rubert Murdoch are in talks with Microsoft to have the new Bing search engine be its sole way of searching for content from the Wall Street Journal etc. Here’s the most recent Business Week article for a summary.

What’s so silly about this arrangement is I doubt it will hurt Google. But it’s almost certain to be bad for the WSJ.

Here’s my non-MBA-holding thought that seems to be overlooked: Most people who find news through Google are looking not for news from a certain outlet but for news on a certain event/topic. If I knew which outlet I wanted to read already, I would go to that Web site directly. Instead, I’m surveying the field of all or most possible news stories to decide which to glance at and how deeply I want to drink on that topic.

Partnering with a lesser-used search engine is only going to remove News Corp. holdings from the well of stories I might otherwise read. It’s not going to get me to switch to a new search platform just so I can read those stories. Sorry.

I think if, as the business week article mentions, more news companies formed alliances this might be harder to stand my ground. Certainly my survey would be less complete. But it would be kind of like the old XM vs. Sirius debate. (Only a Microsoft/Google merger is, um, not gonna happen.) You want to listen to something on both but you have to pick one or choose both, which would be inefficient. I don’t think I’d search for “explosion & Indiana” in both engines, for example. And I’m pretty well set in my ways using Google. Its dominance in the search marketplace tells me I’m far from alone. Therefore, I think it’d hurt the news providers switching to Bing more than it’d hurt or help either search engine. One bonus, however, is it would help other news outlets rank higher on Google with one of the biggest papers out of the way.