The New York Times is reporting that Google News, the world's eighth-ranked news site, is struggling to maintain a 10 percent growth rate, far behind that of rivals like Yahoo! With no ads, few visible improvements to the service, and only 11.4 million visitors in May, as compared with over 35 million to Yahoo! News, Google News appears to be the forgotten child within Google.
Google, of course, defends the site, but I found the defense a bit odd:
[Google's Marissa] Mayer called Google News one of the company's most innovative products, and said that it helped the bottom line because Google News readers were among the most active users of Google's search and other services. News results also show up on the company's main search pages, along with ads.
"It directly feeds the main business," Ms. Mayer said.
Maybe. But innovative? Yes, there may be some secret juju juice to News, but it doesn't make itself apparent to users of the site. Google aggregates and presents news stories. It's a service that I use and like, but innovative? That's not the word I would have used.
One thing I'd like from Google News? Clear separation of opposing views. Given that news is now largely a commodity, I like to quickly get past the facts of what happened to what people think about what happened.
For example, it would be great to have News not only co-locate differing perspectives, as it does now, but also to call out the different sides of any given debate so that I could select articles to get both sides. I'd "pay" for that by viewing ads.