Google's new fastflip technology which has launched with three dozen publishers -- including Slate, Cosmopolitan and the New York Times -- implements an idea that has been around for a long time: visual search. I think their implementation is slick, and their mobile application -- which runs on the iPhone and Android phones, is so much faster than the underlying news sites its not funny. It actually works even on the notoriously slow AT&T network for my iPhone.
There is some debate as to whether or not this will be good for media companies. Of course, there is a symbiotic relationship between content creators and their distributors. Google does not want them dead, just dependent... In a good year (2005), the New York Times has a net margin of 10%. Google's is 25%. As is true in many media, the distributor makes more than the creator. It is in Google's interest to keep the newspapers in business.
Google -- like Amazon -- is first in the demand chain and because of that they have the best preference information. Superior preference information is the key to keeping their margins high -- because anyone who can deliver audience always wins. FastFlip just helps to extend that franchise.