For the second time this week, News Corp. has promised to yank its content from Google, this time within "months." The conglomerate said loudly that search is profitless. But maybe that's just its way of making search hugely profitable.
News Corp. Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller (pictured) said at a Monaco media event that his conglomerate plans to block Google (at least partially) within "months and quarters — not weeks... The traffic which comes in from Google... is the least valuable of traffic to us." That's according to the Telegraph, and followed similar comments from Miller's boss Rupert Murdoch just days before.
So why all the noise? Blocking Google is a straightforward process involving simple text files, not a big act of war that requires lengthy preparation.
Maybe Microsoft has offered News Corp. a middle ground between charging for content and leaving search engines entirely. Bing might offer a cut of ad revenue to News Corp. and other content providers in return for exclusively appearing in the Microsoft search engine, former weblog entrepreneur Jason Calacanis recently suggested.
And that idea isn't far fetched. The Associated Press's CEO recently said Microsoft was offering AP many more favors than Google:
Curley said he was negotiating a new partnership with Microsoft under conditions more favorable to the AP and its members...
Someone asked Curley if Microsoft was willing to accept the AP's demands. "They have said very strongly that they would," Curley responded... "They know how to have a conversation." And what about Google? "I'm not talking about Google," he said. "We haven't talked."
So maybe in the end Rupert Murdoch, the doddering newspaper fetishist, will have the last laugh over Google, reclaiming "his" content revenue... and delivering it straight to Bill Gates and Microsoft. Oh, Rupert.
(Pic by Dave McClure)
UPDATE: This new TechCrunch story about Microsoft's meeting with European publishers confirms that Microsoft's strategy is to ally with the likes of News Corp. against Google: "Microsoft plans to launch an assault on Google's flank, by cosying up to major content providers, especially newspapers, that feel hard done by Google News."