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Murdoch-Microsoft Deal In the Works 468

Hugh Pickens writes "The Financial Times reports that Microsoft is in discussions to pay Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, to 'de-index' its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry. Microsoft is desperate to catch Google in search, and, after five years and hundreds of millions of dollars of losses, Bing, launched in June, marks its most ambitious attempt yet. Microsoft's interest is being interpreted as a direct assault on Google because it puts pressure on the search engine to start paying for content. 'This is all about Microsoft hurting Google's margins,' said the web publisher who is familiar with the plan. 'It's easy to believe that [Microsoft] may spew senseless riches into publishers' pockets, radically distorting the news market, just to spite Google,' writes Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing. 'Murdoch could be wringing cash out of a market he knows is doomed to implosion or assimilation. And he doesn't even have to be an evil genius, either; he just has to be smarter than Steve Ballmer.'"
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Murdoch-Microsoft Deal In the Works

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:53AM (#30200900) Journal

    Murdoch-Microsoft Deal In the Works

    Thank you! Finally some good news. These hatred consolidation programs cut my insane ranting down significantly and gives me more time to appreciate the finer things in life like making intricate tinfoil feathers to put into my tinfoil pimp hats. I applaud Murdoch & Ballmer for finally thinking of people like me. But it may be too little too late, ever since the government subsidized hatred and what with the sub-prime hatred rate financial crisis, I've been forced to cut down on hating as much as forty or fifty percent. Tough times we live in. Tough times.

  • Evil genius (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:57AM (#30200922)

    'Murdoch could be wringing cash out of a market he knows is doomed to implosion or assimilation. And he doesn't even have to be an evil genius, either: he just has to be smarter than Steve Ballmer.'

    Which is just as well because I've never heard anyone accuse Murdoch of being more than half way towards being an evil genius.

  • say and do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:58AM (#30200926) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure that Murdoch will hate M$ for this step. No, I'm serious.

    He's in the publishing industry. In other words: Perception and stories are his trade. The whole "Google is stealing from us" angle is an excellent story and contains a number of great opportunities to profit (from the government if you threaten loss of jobs, from Google if you threaten lawsuits, etc.) - but what M$ is doing is essentially calling his bluff.

    Now he'll either have to go along with it, and de-index his sites, which will result in page views coming down crashing, or have everyone and his dog dig out the old stories and say "wasn't so bad after all, was it, old liar?".

    He's probably already busy trying to find a way out without loss of face.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:59AM (#30200938) Homepage Journal

    Fox wants to pull out of the news business? And we're supposed to complain?

    I don't thinks this means what he thinks it means.

  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:00AM (#30200942)

    I don't personally see any down side of having all of Murdoch's content removed from my searches. If I want news, I want the real deal, not the Faux News spin on it.
    Also I can't imagine two entities that deserve each other more, it's a marriage made in hell.

  • Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headhot ( 137860 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:01AM (#30200954) Homepage

    If I were google, I would let MS have News Corp. The average internet user is not going to even know about the missing content to drive them to switch to bing, and the savvy users could not give a shit about News Corp and MS.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:02AM (#30200966)
    He can't legally win in the US against bloggers who use fair use excerpts of his companies' stories. There is too much precedent there. As long as bloggers comply with the law, he's screwed. The only ones he can nab are the ones who excerpt half of a story, provide one or two sentences of commentary and that's it. What this means is that his stories won't be indexed in Google, but the bloggers who link to them will be indexed. So really, it's a two-fer against Murdoch. If he were smart, what he'd be doing is putting EVERYTHING they've done online since the founding of his companies, and be encouraging everyone to link to their work, talk about it, excerpt it, etc. so that News Corp would become the most powerful news source in Google's index.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:20AM (#30201092)
      All that noise and emotive bullshit he is piling on is to get the laws changed. If he just wanted to stop google indexing things that would have been done long ago.
      He is painting most of the internet as a denizen of petty criminals depriving people of jobs and will continue with that until it gains political traction, then he will make money out of the result if he can. If he can't he really won't care if key portions of the internet are effectively broken.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:02AM (#30200970) Homepage

    I can't but help to think that this is illegal behavior somehow. I also can't help but think that this proposed move has already been cleared by Microsoft's legal department.

    In my mind, there is "competition" and there is the game of "dirty tricks." In competition, competitors simply do the best they can and operate under the idea of "may the best man win." In the game of dirty tricks, competitors do their best to slow, stop or even kill the competition. I can't say for sure which color hat Google is wearing presently, but Microsoft most definitely subscribes to latter behavior rather than the former.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      So what you're saying is that fair competition isn't the American way of doing business.

      Or you've been living under a rock..

  • by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:03AM (#30200972) Homepage

    No one is going to switch search tools because some particular newspaper is in Bing's index and not Google's. If Bing wants to get the traffic, all they have to do is return better results. Buying exclusive access to index the WSJ isn't going to help, because anyone who actually cares about what the WSJ has to say specifically will just go to the WSJ site, not to Bing.

    This would be a waste of MS money, and would hurt the WSJ by having them be found less often (Bing isn't yet as popular as Google, as I understand things), thus getting them less hits and less notice. Unless Murdoch doesn't care about the WSJ's future, this is overall likely a bad move for him.

    If Bing wants the traffic, they have to return better results. Eventually, that will translate into users, but it's not a quick thing.

    This would be a stupid move on Microsoft's part, and probably a bad plan on Murdoch's part. That doesn't mean they won't go forward, but it's a dumb idea all around.

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silverlancer ( 786390 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:05AM (#30200976)
    Murdoch seems to think that people use Google to search Murdoch's sites.

    By Murdoch's logic, clearly if he withdraws his sites from Google, people will stop using Google to search his sites. But hardly anyone using Google has the intention of "searching his sites". People just want information--most people don't care which site has the information as long as it's good information. If Murdoch pulls out of Google that just means fewer people will visit Murdoch's sites. Nobody is going to give a toss about the fact that Fox won't show up on Google. This entire strategy suggests that Murdoch misunderstands his own readers.
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:06AM (#30200984) Homepage

    [I! Love! This! Company!] YEEEEAAAAAH!

  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:07AM (#30200994)

    Google on one side.
    Microsoft and Murdoch on the other.
    Gee... I wonder who the public will side with?

    Sure, Microsoft once beat Mozilla who was burning up cash, but that memory will loom large with Google who has bucketloads of cash and more importantly: smarter people that those old dinosaurs. Microsoft these days is a poor imitator. News Corp is irrelevant unless you like spoonfed opinionated news. My money is on Google.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alioth ( 221270 )

      Microsoft and Murdoch is who they will side with, of course. Look at which OS is on 90% of desktops, look at whose papers/"news" shows are most watched.

  • by Civil_Disobedient ( 261825 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:15AM (#30201052)

    Now I don't have to append to my search results to filter out the lies. Thank you for going to all this trouble.

  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:19AM (#30201084)

    "Rupert Murdoch is pointing a gun to Google's head, and Microsoft is helping him pull back the trigger."

    Oh old Rupert, is it really Google's head, or did you write G O O G L E on your toes? (Yeah that's right, Rupert Murdoch has 6 toes on each foot, you heard it here first!)

  • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:23AM (#30201120)

    ...this is prima facie evidence that Google's "Don't be evil" policy is working very, very well.

  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:23AM (#30201122) Homepage Journal

    Poor Fox - they think their content is important enough to change the behavior of the entire web surfing public. Newsflash - it's not.

    I wonder if Rupert Murdoch has ever used Google for anything. When I do a Google News search, I get the beginnings of articles that link right to the newspaper site to read them. All I get from Google is an aggregation showing me what articles are available on a topic. Even if you put the content itself behind a paywall (the last great idea that didn't pan out for the news industry) I'd still just see that teaser paragraph. I still don't understand where the "theft" thing comes from.

    Now if the entire news industry rose up in unison to lock out search engines it might have a small impact on the habits of users, but as long as there are some holdouts and/or wire feeds online one or two providers dropping out will have no real impact.

    Except for Fox's losing some eyeballs as a result of this I don't see how it works out for anyone. Sure, they get some money that Microsoft is willing to waste, but still - the loss of eyeballs will drive their ad rates down and it'll all probably wash out.

  • What content? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:33AM (#30201208)

    Making Google pay for "content" is like charging the guy on the corner you ask directions from ten bucks.

  • There sure is some strange logic in this deal, especially from the news moguls. 99,9% of all searches regarding news or a topic is about getting information about it regardless of the source.

    When someone do a search for something, the quality of the pages is the interesting part, not where those pages resides. If its pointing to a blogger, Wikipedia or a newspaper is totally irrelevant just as long as the information is correct. By removing their own content the newspapers are only encouraging bloggers and the like.

    I cant see people jumping ship towards Bing to get better results. Its much more likely people will be put off when any search on Bing leads to a paying newspaper instead of to that blog you want to find.

  • Deindex MSNBC? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:45AM (#30201276)
    If Microsoft is serious about this, why haven't they "deindexed" MSNBC from Google? The internet would be a better place if that site disappeared anyway..
  • by Interoperable ( 1651953 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @09:50AM (#30201318)
    I vote that /. excludes Bing from it's robots.txt. We don't want their kind here.
  • by jthill ( 303417 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @10:13AM (#30201550)

    Maybe Microsoft will learn the distinction between money and value before the damage gets too bad.

    Is this really the only way Microsoft can make their products look good, by overtly attempting to damage competitors' products?

  • "Google News" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @12:26PM (#30202994) Journal

    All Google has to do is create its own "Google News", maybe with some fancy roll-overs with well-written but brief summaries. Reporters are cheap these days due to shrinkage. That'll scare the news industry like nobody's mother and they'll come running back begging to be included. Google is the New Microsoft: every twitch they make sends entire industries into frantic tizzies.

  • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @02:07PM (#30204106) Homepage

    You can still get plenty of news for free on the Internet!

    Did you know that George Bush parachuted out of the airplanes just before they hit the WTC? I would not know that except for reading the free news. Also did you know that Al Gore is using global warming as a smokescreen to hide the thermal exhaust from his secret base under the ice cap from which he will enslave the world?

  • by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Monday November 23, 2009 @03:48PM (#30205156) Journal

    pissed off and demanding Ballmer's head on a pike. How does pumping Microsoft's cash into the coffers of News Corp improve things for Microsoft or Microsoft's stockholders? Yeah, it's a great deal for News Corp's stock holders. I mean how bloody stupid is Steve Ballmer anyways? He's going to spend a bunch of money not trying to compete with Google but instead with having a temper tantrum because Microsoft's efforts to compete with Google have been so lame.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson