Google News continues to expand its product to move from a glorified RSS feed into a news portal with its recent move towards launching its own Newspass "pay wall". The Google Newspass which may reduce the impact of the News Corporation to start to move all their papers to a paywall system as other publishers may wait out to see the Google News platform before risking losing their readers. The Google Newspass will enable publishers to charge readers for viewing their content via subscription or micro-payments while staying within Google News.
Google News benefits as it will reduce the number of publishers such as News Corporation who try and build their own paid portals. The secondary benefit is that the News payment gateway will likely be via Google Checkout.
Search Engine Watch have done a bit more detailed exploration of the side effects on free quality content once the Google Newspass paywall is live.
Google News Improves Features
It is interesting as Google continues to improve the interface and Google News product while considering a future paywall. Its likely that once the testing begins information will start to leak out about its success or failure for publishers using it. So expect a large number of improvements to Google News leading up to the release of Newspass, as visitors will want to pay for something more than a RSS feed such as the feature I only noticed today "Quotes.
Google News Quotes
While Google has been experimenting with various ways of displaying quotes and a search to find out more about the fate of Kevin Rudd, ex-prime minister of Australia showed the follow articles with one of the many recent quotes made by the now ex-prime minister.
The link goes through to the existing Kevin Rudd quotes, but is a nice improvement to the Google News interface as it makes the quotes more prominent while allowing for users to search for other past Kevin Rudd quotes made over the last few years. It is likely that a number of journalist will be spending the next week trying to analyse his past quotes to see if there was a sign that he would step down as PM of Australia, while ignoring the fact that his well used KevinRuddPM Twitter account has not been updated since June 18th.
The quote feature is setup only for those who appear to be official figures, celebrities or those Google News feels important enough, so I decided to test some of this with those who have been quoted recently or frequently in the news. The first off the rank is seeing if a product is good enough to be featured and it seems that Google News is smart enough to not give "apple" news items a quote module but is there anyone else who should have but Google News fails to provide?
Steve Jobs obviously gets his quotes when doing a news search for him.
Jessica Simpson provides some entertaining news bites in her763 Google news results, far less than Jessica Watson.
Jessica Watson the solo sailor who recently successfully sailed around-the-world has around 2480 items of news but interestingly no quotes even when she has more news articles to source quotes than Julia Gillard and Jessica Simpson.
The new Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard has her own quote section but doesn't seem to be very up to date, which shows the limitation of this platform. If someone has just been appointed as Prime Minster of Australia you would expect a more recent quote than June 12th 2010.
Greg Packer the well know MTA rail worker who was the first in line to buy the original iPhone and iPad and has attended a number of events and ceremonies just to provide a sound bite or quote, does not have his own quote section. So does this mean that he is not news worthy or does not have enough quotes in his 75 Google News results?
So it seems that there is a bit more technology built into the platform that just a simple scraping of content, and its interesting to note of what Google News selects to avoid even when it is deemed newsworthy enough for the person to have hundreds of articles, interviews and stories written around their quotes. So while the new feature is great for that sound bites for radio and bloggers its not yet got enough to replace journalists who can mold that sound bite to be used out of context if it will sell more papers.