Could it be that Google hath the heart of a heretic and therefore doubts the power of that staple of Internet culture, the user-generated review? The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is buying travel guide maker Frommer’s from John Wiley and Sons, with an eye toward further beefing up its local reviews.
This comes on the heels of the company’s acquisition of restaurant review juggernaut Zagat.
No word on price yet, and it’s not clear whether those doorstoppers will continue to exist in print form. The whole brand might simply be folded into Zagat, which we’re sure employees of the storied Frommer’s brand will be simply thrilled about. Bernardo Hernandez, Zagat’s managing director of product management, told the Journal:
“Our commitment is to keep things as they are today and once we combine operations, we’ll know better what the future looks like.”
Wiley has been trying to offload Frommer’s since March, because it “no longer aligned with its long-term strategies.” Translation: People can look up everything on their smartphones, anyway. Why bother making something as overhead-intensive as a travel guide any more? Even brands that are still holding strong, like Fodor’s and DK, are moving toward apps and other digital offerings.
Mr. Hernandez explains what Google sees in these properties:
“Consumers need fresh accurate information,” said Mr. Hernandez. “When you add information you can trust to phone numbers and addresses as part of the Google search experience, it enables users to convert their intentions into actions.”
All this is particularly interesting considering the effort Google has invested in providing StreetView versions of the world’s great museums. Clearly, Google has no plans to cede its position as the place you look first for any answer or information you might every possibly need, on the Internet or IRL.
Just imagine it: Once all this gets integrated into a consumer version of Google Glasses, the only way to spot the American tourists will be the white athletic shoes. The 2020s are going to be a great decade for travel, you guys.