Google Searches the Past for New Opportunities

The Motley Fool

By Jack Uldrich

Google(NASDAQ:GOOG) announced today that it is offering a new service to allow people to search the archives of newspapers, magazines, and other materials dating back more than 200 years.

Google officials were quick to add that they are "not focusing on monetization yet." The operative word in that statement is "yet."

In spite of the company's highfalutin goal of helping people "be able to explore history as it unfolded," investors need to pay attention to this announcement because it further extends Google's already considerable influence over how the world's information is searched, indexed, and, ultimately, accessed.

Even if the company does not make any money off the deal for a year or so -- and officials are claiming that Google will neither host the content nor charge content owners or consumers for the service -- it does allow the company to reach its already long tentacles into the vast untapped archives of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Lexis-Nexis, and TIME magazine, to name but a few.

From Google's perspective, this is great news, because the more information it can control, the better. Upwards of 400 million people already use the company's search engine every month, and with more deals like this -- along with its recently announced plan to help consumers download and search out-of-copyright books -- that number will only expand.

And as it does, I am confident Google will find ways to "monetize" those opportunities down the road. For instance, by continuing to improve its index of archived information, Google will be in a much stronger position to negotiate future revenue-sharing plans with the content providers. It should also, as the index improves, be able to hone its ability to match searches with specific advertisers and beef up affiliate link programs.

Furthermore, by offering old-world content providers a way to make money from their archives, Google should also be able to extend its growing list of potential allies, which has now grown to include -- as a result of just a few new deals in this past month -- online auction pioneereBay(NASDAQ:EBAY) and, possibly, computing iconApple(NASDAQ:AAPL).

The bottom line is this: Google's latest service, offering people a way to search back in time, also offers Google investors yet another reason why they shouldn't have to search too hard to understand how the company will keep its revenues growing into the future.

Interested in other Google-related Foolishness? Check out these recent articles:

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Fool contributor Jack Uldrich is an amateur history buff and hopes to be using Google's new service soon. He also owns stock in Google. There's no need to search for the Fool's strictdisclosure policy – you can find it right here.

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