updated 12:35 pm EDT, Sat September 17, 2011
Google Propeller rumor points to Google
Google's Propeller tablet app may be seen as a vehicle for the company's ad platform. A rumor Friday suggested Google would help both publishers and itself profit from articles by inserting AdSense ads into the formatted articles. The purported 9to5 sources added that publishers could charge by the article using Google Checkout to handle payments.
The platform could also be significantly more flexible than alternatives like Flipboard or Zite. Publishers would use a web app to 'package' their articles and optimize their look. Although thought to be an app for the iPad and Android 3 tablets, it would also include the iPhone, Android phones, and possibly others.
Articles could be linked together with tables of contents or custom areas, with video and other media formats coming into play.
A release date isn't known, other than that Propeller would come soon, but it would potentially have to compete with a Facebook "social publishing" system that could show at the f8 conference next week. Google is likely to keep the app itself free and to fold in sharing features like +1 and Google+.
The ad system may help address a common concern of curated tablet reading apps such as Flipboard, where articles don't have ads as a general rule and have led some sites to complain that their usual web ads were being stripped away. Flipboard has planned for a more formal ad system but has yet to take it live. If Propeller inserts targeted ads, it might increase the appeal for publishers but could also alienate readers who wanted an uninterrupted read or were concerned about privacy.