Wednesday, May 30, 2007

AP on its Own: News Unplugged from Distribution Partners? - UPDATED

AP reports on the new Microsoft Surface PC which provides a touch-friendly tabletop interface to a Vista PC - kind of like playing PacMan in a bar back in the 1980's, I suppose - but the real item that I wanted to highlight is that the link above goes directly to the AP site where an ad-supported version of the story can be found. That's right, provides a content portal platform for its syndication partners who want their AP content served up from AP's own host facilities. This is something that's not readily evident from the front page or site map of the portal, nor is it really exposed in search engines, but it's clear from the layout of this page that AP is now able to deliver a general news site comparable in general terms to Reuters and other wire services. AP's position as an association wire service prevents it from advancing this capability, no doubt, but it opens up some intriguing options for AP should it decide to deliver news more directly as a part of its business model. With destination portals losing market share and AP's content being embedded successfully in a wealth of mainstream and social media destination content sites, though, it's doubtful that AP really needs such a site to advance its current business goals. Ironically AP's positioning as a pure-play syndication service may have been the ideal positioning for it to weather the changing environment for monetizing online news.

CLARIFICATION: Jim Kennedy, AP Vice President for Strategic Planning, posted this comment:

I'm a great fan of Shore, but this post needs clarification. The "destination" portal you think you landed on is actually nothing of the sort.

Since 1996, AP has hosted general news pages for many of its subscribing members. The pages are generally branded for each member and carry each member's look and feel.

In this case, you found your way to an unbranded page, which we use for in-house and demo purposes.

No change in strategy here. We're not interested in creating a destination. We are doing just fine as a B2B supplier.

Thanks for the information, Jim, I understood this to be a service for AP members but I don't think that this came through clearly enough in the original post. I think that what happened is that one of your partners was using the hosted service with a frame and not a "skin", so it was easy to pop the article out of the frame and to see the hosted site in its demo form. I see this not as a budding strategy from AP but an interesting example of what AP could have done but did not do as a result of its positioning as a membership-driven syndication service.
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