Last week, an article in an Italian newspaper leaked out information about a service that Google has been talking about for a while now – a paid model for accessing content through their search engine.
The newspaper, La Repubblica says that by the end of this year, Google will start a new system, which will require users to pay to access content that is behind a publisher paywall. According to the report, the new platform, called Newspass, is already being tested by Google with a closed group of publishers.
Publishers would be the major beneficiaries of this system, as they will receive the major part of the revenue generated. Google will handle the authentication, support and billing. Publishers will also be able to use a single system to publish their content on desktops, mobiles, tablet PCs and any other platforms.
Users will have a single login across all content sites served by Newspass. Sites will be able to give users the option to pay for long term subscriptions or to make micropayments to access just one article.
Google has neither confirmed nor denied the news. A spokesperson has said, “We’ve consistently said we’re talking with news publishers about ways we can work together, including whether we can help them with technology to power any subscription services they may be thinking of building.”
What makes this development most interesting, though, is its timing. News of this initiative comes at a time when a number of major news publications, such as The New York Times and News Corp-owned The Times and The Sun have either started adopting a paywall for their online versions or intend to do so in the near future.
One does wonder how this system will affect the quality of search results, as it is reasonable to assume, that higher quality information is likely to be categorised as ‘paid content’, while the less interesting stories or second-hand news items from bloggers could be all that remains available for free.