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Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Google showcases new online news reader ‘Fast Flip’


Internet giant Google unveiled its “Fast Flip” online news reader on Monday, featuring stories from major media outlets, including the BBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Google, which launched Fast Flip at the TechCrunch50 technology conference in San Francisco, compared using the quick-loading product to flipping through the pages of a magazine “really fast without unnatural delays.”

Fast Flip allows users to quickly browse through news stories from the Web sites of Google’s three dozen partners.

A Web surfer can quickly jump from one article to the next using large arrows at speeds significantly faster than the time it usually takes to load a Web page.

“As the name suggests, flipping through content is very fast, so you can quickly look through a lot of pages until you find something interesting,” Fast Flip developer Krishna Bharat, a Google engineer, said in a blog post.

Other companies supplying content include magazines such as the Atlantic, BusinessWeek, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Newsweek and Popular Mechanics, as well as online news sites TechCrunch, Salon and Slate.

Google has had a strained relationship with some US publishers and Bharat said the Internet company would share advertising revenue from Fast Flip with its media partners.

The firm’s news aggregator Web site Google News has drawn fire from a number of US newspaper owners for linking to their articles without payment.

The Internet search and advertising heavyweight has dismissed the criticism and countered that it is providing newspapers a free service by driving traffic to their Web sites.

“Partners will share the revenue earned from contextually relevant ads” on Fast Flip, Bharat said. “This gives publishers an opportunity to introduce new readers to their content.”

The new feature, the Google engineer argued, will allow readers to scan articles faster, thus reading more of them and bringing more ad revenue to publishers.

“The publishing industry faces many challenges today, and there is no magic bullet,” he continued. “However, we believe that encouraging readers to read more news is a necessary part of the solution.”

With print advertising revenue and circulation declining, US newspaper publishers have been actively searching for ways to earn more money from the Web, including possibly charging for content online.

Fast Flip allows readers to browse stories by topic, by publication or by “most viewed,” “most popular” or even “recommended.”

It shows only the first page of a story and users who want to read more have to click through to the Web site of the host publication.

Through the feature, users can share content with friends or members of a social network and Google said it is offering a mobile version.

For the moment, Fast Flip is considered an experimental “Google Labs” product.

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