Google CEO Eric Schmidt repeatedly emphasized to me in conversations at the Allen & Co. Conference in Sun Valley that he does not see the world as a zero-sum game. Andhe sees partnership opportunities even from perceived rivals.
Schmidt tells me Google is working on a monetization platform for newspapers, enabling them to charge for individual articles, via subscription, or post content for free with ads.
The newspapers will be able to decide which option to use for different types of content — Google won't dictate anything, it'll just provide the technology and platform.
How soon will we see this news monetization product? He says, "Stay tuned."
I predict we'll see something by this fall.
Giving consumes an easy solution to pay for aggregated news could be a real game-changer for the struggling news business. Rupert Murdoch is pushing a subscription model forward, just earlier this month launching subscription paywalls for News Corp's UK newspapers.
While that experimentation is certainly key in helping publishers find a new model, the simple pay system for a broad range of content Google could offer would be on a much grander scale. Google could hold onto consumers' credit card information and charge "micropayments" for individual articles.
If Google does it right, this would reverse consumers' assumption that news content is, and should be, free.
And the open platform is entirely in keeping with the company's strategy of creating open technology — like its Chrome browser— to drive more open web activity.