Is Apple's Safari 5 a publisher killer?

The just-released Safari 5 promises faster performance, better adherence to HTML 5 standards and a few other goodies. But a nifty feature in Safari Reader also takes dead aim at online publishers, who could see significant revenue losses if Safari ever becomes popular.

Safari Reader is an excellent tool for reading articles on the Web without distraction -- especially multi-page ones. When you're reading an article, you'll see a Reader icon in the address bar. Click it, and the Reader pops up, displaying the article in a streamlined, extremely readable form. Rather than click from page to page, you just scroll through the reader. It maintains links and displays graphics. Here's a shot of it in action.

Safari Reader

What it doesn't display are ads, the lifeblood of online publishers. Let's say there's a five-page Web-based article you want to read. If you read it on the Web, ads display every time you click to a new page. Frequently, more than one ad displays on each page. Publishers get paid for showing each of those ads and may also get paid if anyone clicks on the ads.

In Safari Reader, someone scrolls through the multi-page article. No ads display -- not a single one. It makes for a nice reading experience for users. It's death for publishers.

Publishers can take some small bit of comfort, though, because a relatively small number of people use Safari compared to other browsers. But if that ever changes and Safari Reader becomes popular, it may spell very bad news for any Web site looking for revenue.

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