Google, Twitter Forge Open Source Publishing Partnership

Google and Twitter are collaborating on an open source project that focuses on helping publishers bring instant articles to mobile phone subscribers, Re/code reported Friday, citing multiple sources.

Facebook launched its Instant Articles feature earlier this year.

Apple and Snapchat reportedly have similar tools in development.

The Google and Twitter team-up “is a very important development,” said Zebra Social CEO Jordani Sarreal.

“While Facebook is keeping the traffic on their site with Instant [Articles], Google and Twitter are trying to be more appealing to content creators in that they can keep their website data with their content,” he told LinuxInsider.

The Open Source Factor

The rumored project sounds like the best of both worlds in open source, Sarreal observed.

“Many of the people who have not jumped on Facebook’s instant publishing are likely to jump on this trend to hopefully not miss out, and establish themselves in the forefront of Google and Twitter publishing,” he added.

The introduction of another platform could add to the burden for content marketers and publishers. Once it is launched, they will have to determine which kind of content does better on which new publishing platform, how to layout the information, and how to incorporate keywords, Sarreal noted.

“Google and Twitter will be looking for different things within an article. It will take time to understand what those differences are, and how to adjust our content accordingly,” he pointed out.

“Although it is early, it is easy to assume the publishers will benefit more from Google’s publishing integration if their website has a great library of information and strong calls to action,” said Sarreal.

Better for Brands

Assuming the rumors are true, most publishers likely will react positively to the news, noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

Apple and Facebook already dominate many of their markets. While they themselves are highly profitable, the revenues flowing to the content creators who work with them often are fairly modest, he told LinuxInsider.

“It is easy to see why publishers and authors would prefer a model that offers them more autonomy, attention and potential revenues,” King said.

Arguably, content creators and publishers would prefer an open source approach to speeding user access to online content to a proprietary platform such as Apple’s or Facebook’s. Using an open source system would help preserve and reinforce their own brands.

“It hopefully leads readers to investigate other content on their sites,” said King.

The publishers and authors likely to benefit most are those who understand how to drive search results, noted King.

“That will be fairly easy for well-known folks, but a tougher road for unknowns and people whose careers are just beginning. Then again,” he added, “starting out has never been an easy task for writers and publishers.”

Playing Catch-Up

Google will be coming late to the publishing party, having failed to challenge Facebook with its own social media platforms — the short-lived Google Buzz and the faltering Google+, noted SEO researcher Joshua J. Bachynski.

“Google needed a way to combat competitors such as Facebook and get timely and relevant social media posts into its search results to reflect that growing cultural interest,” he told LinuxInsider.

Google’s inability to understand its user base has forced it to form an uneasy partnership with Twitter and others, he noted.

“Unsatisfied with relying on the Web information sources they have had for years,” Bachynski said, “Google now wants to get unmitigated informational control.”

At Home With Open Source

Google reportedly took the lead in forging the partnership deal with Twitter, and it’s likely that the project is more in Google’s comfort zone.

“It is Google’s business model to be open source by nature,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“It might very well be that Google is worried about being left out of the publishing traffic,” he told LinuxInsider, but “with its size, any space it enters gets filled by them.”

Google and Twitter declined to comment for this story.

Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him onGoogle+.

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