Okay, so News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch didn't really tell Google to drop dead. That's just an attention getting device like the classic headline in The Daily News back in the 1970s: "Ford to City: Drop Dead."
What Murdoch did say in a Sky News interview today was that his company is considering blocking Google from being able to search its Web sites.
Murdoch said, "I think we will (block Google), but that's when we start charging. We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
In the past, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said, "In general these models (paid online content) have not worked for general public consumption because there are enough free sources that the marginal value of paying is not justified based on the incremental value of quantity. So my guess is for niche and specialist markets ... it will be possible to do it but I think it is unlikely that you will be able to do it for all news."
If you want to watch the interview for yourself, check it out on YouTube -- which, ironically, is an independent subsidiary of Google Inc.
Now, would Google really "drop dead" if News Corp. blocked it from crawling its websites?
Bill Tancer, the General Manager, Global Research at Experian Hitwise, took a look at this question in a blog post entitled, "News Corp. Google-less?"
According to Hitwise data:
- On a weekly basis Google and Google news are the top traffic providers for WSJ.com account for over 25 percent of WSJ.com's traffic.
- Over 44 percent of WSJ.com visitors coming from Google are "new" users who haven't visited the domain in the last 30 days.
- Twitter and Facebook sent 4% of US visits to News and Media sites in October 2009. (via @Hitwise_US)
- The percentage of upstream traffic from Facebook and Twitter to News and Media sites is up 490% year-over-year.
So, maybe Murdoch should think twice before pulling the plug on 25 percent of WSJ.com's traffic. Although the amount of traffic from social media like Facebook and Twitter is growing, it won't offset the upstream traffic from Google and Google News.
Or, who knows, maybe the tables will be turned someday and we'll read a headline like: "Google to Murdoch: Go Ahead, Make My Day."