Googzilla to Newspaper Titans: Keep Customers Happy

April 8, 2009

I absolutely love the intellectual ultimate fighting championship underway. In one corner is Googzilla–oops–I mean Google. In the other corner is the entire newspaper industry. Seems like a fair fight to me. The GOOG is a global behemoth. The company has a killer business model that provides users with oodles of “free” information and services. Sure, a motivated customer can buy services from the Google, but the fusion power of Googzilla is its business model that sells access to its customers. Google’s brand is a hot one. Google love is rampant. Sure, there are some complainers, when it comes to search systems, the Google is the love bunny.

When I read “Google’s Schmidt To Newspaper Publishers: Don’t ‘P#&% Off’ Consumers” here, I had to honk merrily. I know the top Googlers don’t think the grousing–er, escalating hostility–is amusing. In my opinion, I don’t think most of the Googlers understand what the newspapers’ problem is.’s article does a great job of capturing the facts of the top Googler’s speech. What the article underscores is the general cluelessness of both sides of this battle about one another’s business zeitgeist. As I read the story, I though of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Same deal. Google is the future. The newspaper industry is the castle artisan. Everything the Connecticut Yankee did was magic. Same problem. Pretty funny when Mark Twain tells the story. Not so humorous for the traditional publishing companies. The traditional newspaper folks are trying fix a water problem with incantations. The Yankee repairs the leak. Pragmatism wins out over shamanism every time in Mr. Twain’s world.

I found this passage from the excellent write up most interesting:

But Schmidt came down harder on concerns about intellectual property and fair use: “From our perspective, we look at this pretty thoroughly and there is always a tension around fair use … I would encourage everybody, think in terms of what your reader wants. These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.”

If I were a betting goose, I would wager that some in the newspaper industry might have interpreted Mr. Schmid’s comments a somewhat arrogant. Not much Mark Twain in Mr. Schmidt’s alleged comment. Good advice in my opinion. Probably ignored though.

Stephen Arnold, April 8, 2009


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