Fast Flip: Google’s Newsstand

I love magazine subscriptions. I especially love free magazine subscriptions, but I love all sorts of print.   Magazines, newspapers, catalogs.   How many marketers do you know who still keep a copy of Famous Catalogs on their bookshelf between a PHP book and Robert Spector’s book about Amazon‘s business model called Get Big Fast?

In a world of Kindles, on demand cable television and smartphones, print may be dying as a media, but the print layout is something many still seek.  Google Reader add-on Feedly is maybe the best RSS platform I’ve ever used.   And now Google itself enters the fray with Google Fast Flip, currently in development in Google Labs, but available to all. Fast Flip is just about the coolest news platform ever.

Enter the microsite to be greeted by your choice of periodical, subject or popular stories (with links to the most popular in each category).  The periodicals are simply A-list: The Washington Post, BBC and The New York Times are just a handful of the news periodicals available.  Subject-specific periodicals like Billboard, Cosmopolitan and Popular Mechanics are also here. Fast Flip gives a thumbnail view of a periodical page.  Text links float around the top or bottom (Google is always testing, after all) although simply clicking the thumbnail itself brings forward a copy of that publication’s online article.    Subjects are on target for world events.  Today’s topics include Nigeria, Facebook, Pakistan, Tsunami — actual news.  A recommended link will undoubtedly make smart use of Google’s algorithms and create a newsstand populated by your previous choices, biases and likes. In its quest for increasingly granular micro-targeting, Google started with big brands and refines their content to the reader’s biases.

What’s not to like about a fast Google rendering with a familiar New York Times logo showing that someone was at least paid to edit and fact check the article? Fastflip isn’t the end of print.  Print already ended.  We’re simply watching its slow death now.   But the thin-slicing of Google information about its users and search patterns are fast resulting in something that could easily converge with YouTube and challenge CNN or the BBC with enough video content.  That’s a future phase.  Right now, FastFlip seems content to be an electronic newsstand.

Executive Summary:  Google’s Labs features enhancements and new services you should stay on top of to see where the search giant is headed as it morphs into an information services company.  The latest foray, Fast Flip, reproduces the online pages of traditional print media in an appealing filmstrip layout.

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