Microsoft vs Google Internet war to benefit media: AP chief

Microsoft vs Google Internet war to benefit media: AP chief

Hong Kong: Microsoft’s Internet search engine war with Google will revitalise the ailing media industry by helping it profit more from online news, the head of US news agency the Associated Press said Tuesday.

Microsoft’s move in July to team up with Yahoo! and challenge Google’s dominance of the online search market is a turning point in the traditional media’s efforts to adapt to the Internet, AP president and CEO Tom Curley said.

Newspaper executives have complained that Google reaps the benefits from its popular news aggregation site Google News, while the industry gains little revenue from the service which readers access for free.

“We stand at an enviable moment where Microsoft and Google have decided to go to war," Curley said in an address to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.

“And we who produce content can begin to figure out whether there’s an opportunity for us to help that sharing in a way that reverses the outflow of money from media and takes it back."

Curley said that increased competition from the turf war, and Microsoft’s plans to improve the reliability of news sources, would all benefit the media industry.

While he declined to criticise Google, the AP boss told reporters that Microsoft has proved keener to collaborate on how to improve the profitability of online news.

Curley said AP was in talks with the software giant about its new Internet search technology, which includes a feature allowing Web surfers to search using image galleries instead of text links.

He expected new strategies to improve readers’ experience of online news to bear fruit in the next three to fifteen months.

“I think you’ll see a lot more effort and a lot more announcements that are a lot more bullish from media companies than you have in the last decade," he said.

The AP is owned by 1,400 US newspapers but declining circulation, a drop in advertising revenue and Internet competition has decimated the industry with seven major companies in bankruptcy and 30,000 jobs lost since 2007.

Earlier this year the AP launched an industry initiative to protect news content from unauthorized use online, including a “news registry" to track the use of its stories on the Web.