Google and Twitter are working together to launch their own take on “instant articles” for mobile phone users, Re/code’s Peter Kafka and Mark Bergen report.
Like other “instant article” initiatives from Facebook, Apple, and Snapchat, this plan aims to make it easier for publishers to get their content read on smartphones. Full articles on Google and Twitter will now appear on mobile devices almost instantaneously, without the annoying lag that is currently the standard. The product will launch this fall with a small group of publishers, according to Re/code.
But Google and Twitter’s foray into instant articles will be different from previous efforts in significant ways. The most obvious is the fact that, according to reports, Google and Twitter will not host the publisher’s content, but rather show viewers cached versions of the web pages instead. The articles will still be hosted on the publisher’s site.
These instant articles also won’t be a branded product — there will be no Google or Twitter version of Apple’s upcoming news app. Internally the instant articles are simply described as “accelerated mobile pages,” according to Re/code.
Because of these features, it makes sense that Google and Twitter are reportedly developing these tools as an open-source project, which could soon be adopted and used by other tech companies.
“The world needs an answer to proprietary instant articles, and Twitter and Google could provide it,” a source familiar with the matter told Re/code.
Revenue details have yet to be hashed out, according to Re/code. But Facebook, for its part, gives publishers 100% of the revenue from ads appearing inside instant articles, and takes 30% of revenue for the ads it sells against them.
Critics of the “instant articles” trend think it puts too much control in the hands of tech companies like Facebook and Apple. And some worry that once publishers’ home pages are no long destination sites for readers, Facebook (and others) will play hardball and change their terms with publishers.
But Google and Twitter’s decision to not host content might alleviate some, though not all, of those fears.
While in practice the differences between this effort and others might not affect users, the tone of Google and Twitter’s entrance into the market feels less overbearing from a publisher’s standpoint — in tone if nothing else. And that is no doubt intentional.
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