Will Google Fast Flip save the newspaper industry?

15 Sep 2009

The latest project to come out of Google Labs may be an unlikely breath of life for the ailing publishing industry: Fast Flip is Google’s way of flipping through news sites with some of the ease and feel of the physical newspaper or magazine.

Rather than waiting for content-rich sites to load when all you want to do is “skim through the papers,” Google Labs’ Fast Flip provides a preview of the article in question with an option to click through instead of fully load.

“The flow should feel seamless and let you rapidly flip forward to the content you like, without the constant wait for things to load. Imagine taking 10 seconds to turn the page of a print magazine,” said Krishna Bharat, distinguished researcher, Google News.

Content partners add clout

In order to give Fast Flip some clout, Google partnered with three dozen top publishers, including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek.

You can choose from several categories: popular, recent, most viewed, recommended and headlines. There are also the normal sections: politics, business, sci-tech and so on, as well as categories by topics and sources.

More than a print copycat

This isn’t just about emulating the magazine or newspaper experience; it is also about adding the community aspect of an online platform: “Fast Flip also personalises the experience for you, by taking cues from selections you make to show you more content from sources, topics and journalists that you seem to like.

“In short, you get fast browsing, natural magazine-style navigation, recommendations from friends and other members of the community and a selection of content that is serendipitous and personalised,” explained Bharat.

Media partners will share revenue earned through this Google venture from contextually relevant ads.

“The publishing industry faces many challenges today, and there is no magic bullet. However, we believe that encouraging readers to read more news is a necessary part of the solution. We think Fast Flip could be one way to help, and we’re looking to find other ways to help, as well, in the near future,” said Bharat.

There is also a mobile version for both iPhones and Android devices, which has tactile page turning for a more interactive experience.

By Marie Boran, via Gadgetrepublic.com

Photo: Google Lab’s Fast Flip provides previews of articles from various sources.