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Rupert Murdoch is a media mogul who hasn't shied away from revealing his true feelings towards Google. The best way to sum them up? If Google didn't exist, he would be all the happier.
Earlier this year, Murdoch asked cable industry execs "Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?" His response: media execs should be saying "Thanks, but no thanks" to Google.
That's easier said than done, of course, because for all of the complaints media execs have about Google, Google usually sends a lot of traffic their way. As with any good love-hate relationship, media execs say all sorts of nasty things about Google yet none have completely slammed the door on the relationship.
When it comes to News Corp.'s relationship with Google, Murdoch has made it clear that he doesn't think Google isn't contributing much. So why not just update robots.txt on News Corp. websites and kick Google to the curb? Murdoch now says he plans to...when News Corp.'s websites go paid.
Murdoch's plans came to light in an interview with David Speers of Sky News. When Speers asked him why he just doesn't opt-out from Google, Murdoch replied "I think we will". The question that is probably running through a lot of minds right now: is Murdoch crazy?
It would be easy to answer 'yes' but this is Rupert Murdoch we're talking about here and he sort of has a decent track record as a media mogul. So if Murdoch moves ahead with his plan to break up with Google -- and that's still a big if -- there's probably more to the plan than he's revealing right now. Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing speculates that Murdoch might seek a deal with a second-tier search engine:
Murdoch has no intention of shutting down search-engine traffic to his sites, but he's still having lurid fantasies inspired by the momentary insanity that caused Google to pay him for the exclusive right to index MySpace (thus momentarily rendering MySpace a visionary business-move instead of a ten-minutes-behind-the-curve cash-dump).
So what he's hoping is that a second-tier search engine like Bing or Ask (or, better yet, some search tool you've never heard of that just got $50MM in venture capital) will give him half a year's operating budget in exchange for a competitive advantage over Google.
It's an interesting idea, even though I agree with Doctorow that it wouldn't do much for the search engine.
Personally, whatever Murdoch is thinking, I'd like to see him follow through and drop Google. It would probably provide an informative and entertaining case study assuming you're not a nervous News Corp. shareholder. It might even answer the question many media execs don't have the answer to: does Google help more, or hurt more?
Photo credit: Oxfam America via Flickr.