A new news aggregator is launching Inform.com, and it does so with a wet kiss from the New York Times’ Bob Tedeschi today. It has a pretty slick layout, though as others have pointed out, it doesn’t appear to add that much to the current marketplace. It’s basically just like Google News only with a different layout — and a huge staff (see below).
It seems to emphasize slickness over everything else — all sorts of frames, pop-ups, etc. In addition, it is only fully functional in IE and neglects Firefox users.
The NY Times piece describes the business model:
Inform will sell advertising on areas not already covered by articles from other publications, Mr. Goldman said, and will charge for services like personalized news files and archives. It is also considering selling its technology to newspapers for use on their sites to alert readers to related articles, perhaps in other publications as well as their own.
The advertising piece is interesting — how will they avoid the TotalNews problem? For those who aren’t online news old-timers, TotalNews was sued by CNN and other major news sites for framing their stories and placing ads around the content frame. The case was settled and TotalNews stopped the practice. Yet it sounds like Inform.com has a similar scheme in mind. We’ll have to see what they do and how it turns out.
And it does appear that they’ll have to come up with a heck of a lot of revenue to justify the enterprise. Reuters reports that this just-launched startup has a massive workforce with a very low worker-to-input ratio:
Inform Technologies has 55 employees, half of whom are based in India.
These workers have set up a list of nearly 1,000 Web-based news sources
and 100 top blogs and are adding several new sources to the system each
day, they said.