2009-11-29

Murdoch's Folly

Rupert Murdoch, founder and owner of News Corp (which has holdings like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post), has decided that he wants to remove all of his holdings' websites from Google's search indices.
He has a valid point in doing so, in that Google reaps all the profit by displaying for free excerpts from the websites in question while raking in money from the associated advertising. News Corp gets next to nothing from this.
However, the next step in this is highly questionable.
Microsoft has decided that it cannot compete with Google's search service in a traditional manner, so now it is paying website owners like News Corp to move their results from Google to Bing.
This sort of bribing is questionable anyway, but I doubt it will work.
The problem with Murdoch's (and Steve Ballmer's) reasoning is that they are assuming that the exit of one or a few websites from Google's search engine will have a permanent impact on Google's revenues and profits. This is not true, as once these companies leave Google's indices, other websites (and/or their owners) will quickly fill the temporary void, so News Corp will be the only loser in this. Yes, Bing will profit from additional entrants into the search indices, but their indices aren't anywhere close to Google's in terms of size and relevance.
The only way this could work to actually bring down Google is if News Corp persuades the majority of news companies providing content online to leave Google for Bing. Then only will the void become permanent due to a dearth of new sites to take their places and then only will Google start to really lose money.
If this is really what Murdoch and Ballmer intend to do to take down Google (i.e. make all media sites and not just News Corp leave Google search for Bing), then that is quite ambitious and will take a lot of work to do. Until then, I feel like Murdoch is just venting publicly over lost revenue (as if he isn't getting enough already).

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