I read an opinion piece yesterday that speculated that Google should buy the New York Times. My first thought was outrage that a newspaper would have an agenda. My second thought was wow, I’m naive, newspapers are businesses and businesses can be companies and companies can be bought. (Strangely enough though a company can’t own a newspaper and a television station in the same market.) My third thought was would it be cool if Google owned the New York Times, what could they do? My fourth thought was why not Amazon?
Google and Amazon may be in different businesses but there’s a lot of overlap.
|Why you use them||buy books, store data||look for information|
|Looking in books||look inside books you are interested in||search inside books for information that you are looking for|
|Search||search for books that have information or stories you want||search for information|
|Publishing||publishes author’s blogs
pushes news content and books to Kindle
shows indexes and chapters
|serves up all sorts of content, mostly summarized
publishes your documents and email
|User data||allows you store your own data and search it (S3 storage business)
stores your ratings, reviews and wish lists
|allows you to search your data that you’ve stored stored on the web or on your computer
stores your email, contacts, and documents
|How they make money||makes money from selling things (like books) and content (like newspaper feeds)||makes money from selling things (like books) and content (like newspaper feeds)|
|How they allow users to make money||gives referral fees for book sales||gives ad money for selling ads on user content pages|
So what would owning the New York Times buy them? They’d be buying a brand. People respect the New York Times and trust the news it brings them (some people trust it more than others) – it also has a dedicated readership, so they’d be buying readers. So they’d buy brand, trust, influence and readers.
What would Amazon do with that? What would Google do with that? The scary thing they could do is influence the news and therefore what we know, think and believe, but they already do that. Getting past that, what cool new things could a Google or Amazon do if they owned the New York Times? Both could do cool things with old content. Speaking of which, somebody should put all the New York Times photos on Flickr like the Library of Congress photos. That would be cool. I think Google would be more likely to do something like that than Amazon.
What else could they do with it? They both could help me find news stories I’m interested in but Google already does that and I have my own cool ways of doing that (primarily del.icio.us.) I keep getting back to seeing Amazon as a content seller so they’d just be investing in the content they sell (not a business they are in) whereas Google is an information finder so they’d have more information for you to find but I feel like I’m missing something bigger.
There’s an a-hah, big opportunity moment waiting for the person that sees it …