Last night, Google
If that sounds like a slight, I don't mean it to be. The Kindle is brilliant in its balance of performance and economy. I love how I can send PDF copies of the latest Fool newsletters to my Kindle for on-the-go reading. Fast Flip, by contrast, is merely a portal.
Fast Flip isn't even much of a breakthrough. Content resides elsewhere; Google merely pulls in screen views and adds the browsing and organizing tools. Click on a story and you'll be sent to the publisher's web page. But Fast Flip looks and feels right, like flipping through a newspaper. The difference is that users, not publishers, determine what's browse-worthy.
For example, in browsing for stories about space this morning, Fast Flip's front page presented me with six stories from six different publishers. The results weren't perfect; a Smithsonian article referred to aliens for context -- the story itself was about marine organisms that migrate to unfamiliar parts of the deep. This may be why Fast Flip is still tagged as in "beta," although Gmail carried this designation for years.
Publishers have thus far proven open to the experiment. Both of the namesake newspapers of Washington Post
Over time, Google plans to place ads around certain news articles and share revenue with publishers, The New York Times reports.
In the here and now, Fast Flip is the most efficient content browser I've seen, and it's already available on Android-powered smartphones and the iPhone. Both devices allow users to swipe through pages -- again, as if flipping through a newspaper.
Look alive, Amazon. Steve Jobs may be the only one laughing at the Kindle now, but Larry and Sergey are chuckling in the corner.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and Google and a stock position in New York Times Co. at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy was so good at back flips that it almost joined the circus, until a freak accident involving ice cream and jellybeans ended its carny career.