Google News Goes Mobile : New gizmos, Gadgets gazette Blog

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Google News Goes Mobile

Google's "News Near You" function for mobile browsers promises location-targeted news that could both nurture and challenge local news publishers.

Android and iPhone users are now given the option of sharing their location when visiting the mobile Google News page, which provides news stories that are relevant to wherever they are. Location-based filtering has long been available on the desktop version of Google News, but not the mobile site.

The service goes beyond simply linking to stories from local outlets, instead including articles about the reader's location that may come from media sources far away.

"We do local news a bit differently, analyzing every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located," said the company in a blog post.

With a minor tweak to its mobile portal, Google has jumped easily into the hyper-local news market. It could piggyback on other efforts to address demand for local information like AOL's Patch by providing links to that content.

This could prove to be a symbiotic relationship: a lot of potential readers who know about Google News but have never heard of Patch, for example, could discover the hyper-local news service through Google. The new feature could also bring fresh readers accustomed to national news back to local newspapers.

But content producers have always had an uneasy relationship with Google News, which some see as simply scraping headlines and story summaries for its own gain. Yes, some readers click through to the original story, but others just skim the Google News front page. And when readers do click through, they may not form a connection with the source site.

The next time the reader wants news, they are likely to return to Google News rather than the content provider's site.

Of course, sharing location is required for the new function to work, and the recent controversies surrounding mobile location data may leave potential users thinking twice about opting in.

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