The previously rumored Google news site “Flipper” is in fact launching today as “Fast Flip” in Google Labs. But maybe it should be called Google Skimmer because it permits people to move very quickly through lots of visually rich news pages from dozens of partner publications. According to the Google Blog Post:
Fast Flip is a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles. Like a print magazine, Fast Flip lets you browse sequentially through bundles of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as feeds from individual top publishers. As the name suggests, flipping through content is very fast, so you can quickly look through a lot of pages until you find something interesting. At the same time, we provide aggregation and search over many top newspapers and magazines, and the ability to share content with your friends and community. Fast Flip also personalizes the experience for you, by taking cues from selections you make to show you more content from sources, topics and journalists that you seem to like. In short, you get fast browsing, natural magazine-style navigation, recommendations from friends and other members of the community and a selection of content that is serendipitous and personalized.
Here are some screenshots provided by Google, which look quite similar to the originally leaked screens from the earlier “Flipper” rumors:
According to Google’s Marissa Mayer, Google co-founder Larry Page said, “Why isn’t the web like a magazine?” and wanted a way to browse it. Well, Fast Flip lets users visually browse (as well as search) news. There’s also personalization; the site makes recommendations based on your clicks, searches and other behavior.
When you click on any of the stories, you’re taken to publisher sites, which makes them happy. Speaking of which, Google’s initial publisher partners include the NY Times, Atlantic Magazine, Washington Post, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek.
Google is banking that an improved user experience will mean lots of traffic and page views. Google says that revenue generated from ads on the site will be split with publishers. (This could potentially be a goldmine of display inventory for Google if it expands the content from news into a broad range of magazines.)
If it’s a hit, this probably becomes the successor to Google News. And it may be the testing ground for the potential “micropayments platform” that Google is developing for content publishers — it’s all coming together now. I’m only partly kidding with that remark.
We haven’t yet had a chance to try the site but it looks like a much richer and more interesting way to consume news than, well, Google News.