Today, as an unexpected
benefit of my Electronic Publishing Services,
Ltd. (EPS)
affiliation, I was sent a copy of Outsell’s latest Hot Topics
report: "Google:
The Threat to Media and Information."

(Outsell, Inc. became EPS’ parent company
in 2006.)

The report does an
excellent job describing Google’s architecture (in relatively non-technical
terms) and explaining why that architecture makes them a formidable innovator,
product developer, and competitor.

The speed and specificity
with which Google can react to user behavior is very impressive and rivaled by

The report also explains
how certain products and patents under Google’s control might combine with
their architecture and culture to impact publishing in a substantial way.

How substantial?

“…any content within the
Googleplex can be used for creating custom content output that can be sold or
further monetized with advertising, or both…An author can upload a dataset or
document to Google Base and make it available for direct sale or as a component
of an automatically generated content construct such as a book of readings for
college coursework.”

But, if you’re a
publisher, don’t despair!

Outsell describes where
Google might go wrong and offers a list of essential actions publishers and
information providers might take to manage the Google threat.

This Outsell report is truly an amazing

My only hesitation with the topic is the word

Any company that has the potential to reshape an
industry is certainly scary to those of us in that industry.

However, only
viewing Google, any new technology, or any innovative business model, as an
adversary makes me nervous.


Most of us react
to threats. They tend to illicit defensive behaviors. Defensive behaviors are often counter-productive.

In my opinion, some of the “spots on the battlefield”
that Outsell mentions are areas that publishers might complement Google’s
capabilities with deep and unique content knowledge that Google will likely
never have (or want).

They are opportunities for publishers and Google to
work together.

While I’m sure it’s semantic, I feel it’s more
conducive to publishing innovation to focus on areas where complementary
expertise exists.

What can publishers do, that consumers would value,
and that Google can’t do (or doesn’t want to do)?

Semantic differences aside, I found this report both
fascinating and useful.