Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Quick View and the Cached Internet

Google Quick View is intended to bring content to your smartphone in a fraction of the time.

It's unclear whether QV is delivering some kind of cached page copy, but that's the assumption I'm making. The project is also still in experimental stages and is only using Wikipedia pages at this time. This makes sense; at least from a 'copyright permission' point of view. It's one thing to keep copies of webpages in Google cache; but quite another to deliver those surrogates to users, rather than the original website's version. Publisher consent is required.

Now, what if Google can deliver mobile content faster? Mobile is an easy target here. Who needs speed more? ... Perhaps website owners are prepared to trade 'speed' for their publishing control. I don't know, and would hope smaller publishers wouldn't buy into this model (or able to afford it?); but for the biggest of publishers, I suspect this kind of offering could be a big draw. Mobile growth being what it is, and the exposure opportunities that Google can deliver.

Can you imagine the New York Times or Wall Street Journal not jumping aboard?

The Internet has always had the ability to "level the playing field." Big or small, web publishing (mostly) allowed one to punch above their weight class. For really big publishers, however, QV could be their chance to rise above upstart competitors. To purchase certain factors differentiating their delivery. And really, who better to partner with?

As for Google, QV might be their chance to further embed their company as "the platform" built upon the Internet's infrastructure. (I obviously have similar thoughts re: Facebook and G+.)  Whenever big companies house and deliver the content of others to Internet users, a little publisher independence is lost.

If Publishers become reliant on Google, letting them deliver their pages faster and to more people, I can't see them being able to step off the platform -- even if they wanted to. Once your competition is using "the platform" too, right or wrong, the risks are too high to leave. Which is what many people are betting on by holding company stock in the 'GoogAppleFaceAzons' of the world. Platforms could be profitable.

A little tin foil hat going on here? Perhaps. But if the Internet becomes a question of speedy cached content vs. mom-and-pop self-hosted content; there will be another type of 'digital divide' going on.  And unfortunately, it won't be Publishers (big or small) who profit.