While today there's tons of talk about the new Google Phone, it's worth taking a look at the impact of a new feature Google launched a week ago, one that could have real impact on the news division.
Google's real-time search incorporates the up-to-the-second blog posts and Twitter Tweets in the latest news results on the site.The ability to easily access the absolutely latest news without going directly to Twitter should have real impact in two areas: breaking news and hyper-local news.
Google's new search technology helps in its competition with Microsoft's Bing, which already integrates Twitter and Facebook search results. But perhaps most interesting, it could also have real impact on local and smaller newspapers. When people hear about a plane landing on the Hudson river or a terrorist attack they go directly to CNN.com or Nytimes.com, or search on Google and then head to those sites.
Now Google lets you access all those breaking news headlines without ever clicking through to that news Web site. Local newspapers' sites thrive when there's a fire or news event to drive a flurry of local traffic. But why go to the newspaper if the Twitter ecosphere will give you the very latest?
Some good examples of how users are increasingly living their digital lives on the Google platform, getting every variety of question answered.
Here users confirm that a website — One Bus Away — is down by looking at real-time results.
Here is an example of how users could find out the score of a cricket game the moment it ends, before it was reported by mainstream news sources.
When it comes to hyper-local news, like what's happening in the lobby of a particular company, this also works. Check out this stream of feeds about live reindeer being in the Google lobby — this screen shot taken just moments after the animals showed up at the search giant's headquarters.
Sure, there are problems that could come from real-time search. It could be easy to take advantage of the technology for purposes of spam, or real time results could include libel, since Twitter doesn't authenticate its users. But I also think there could be some great benefits from bringing all this new data to your fingertips. It's yet to be seen how much negative impact it could have on the local papers that are already suffering a decline in ad revenue.
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