In a move of gastronomical proportions, Google announced on its official blog yesterday that it has acquired Zagat. According to Zagat’s website the Zagat Survey began as a hobby in 1979 and has now grown into the “world’s leading provider of consumer survey-based information on where to eat, drink, stay & play worldwide.” Started by Nina and Tim Zagat, the survey was born from a discussion with friends at a dinner party about how bad the newspaper restaurant reviews were. Tim came up with the idea to survey friends. This led to about 200 amateur critics rating restaurants based on food, dÃ©cor, service and cost. The results of the survey were distributed all over town and they were an instant success. Today, Zagat covers more than 100 countries and has more than 350,000 surveyors worldwide. A 30 rating is a perfect score on a Zagat Survey.
Marissa Mayer, VP, Local, Maps and Location Services, made the announcement yesterday. This is a move that is sure to bolster local service offerings for Google. According to her blog post, “Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offeringâ€”delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world. ” This deal comes at a critical time for Google. In a Reuters article, Brian Fitz, an analyst at UBS, is quoted as saying, “Google needs reviews and other content for its “Google Places” websites, in part to fend off criticism. It has been accused of using comments from review sites such as Yelp, essentially siphoning off their readers and, more importantly, their clicks.” This acquisition will certainly give them a steady foothold in the ever growing local services market.
Not everyone is a winner in this deal. OpenTable, “provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants”, took a real hit in market trading yesterday. There are fears that Google may want to get into the restaurant reservation business with this acquisition. The local business market is on a growing trend right now, so there is no doubt that the behemoth Google will shore up their bottom line in this market.
While not everyone is excited about this deal, it is no doubt a great acquisition for Google. Zagat brings a strong reputation to the table and pretty much gives instant credibility to “Google Places” reviews. It will be interesting to see what direction Google heads with the Zagat acquisition. I guess we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled. For now, all I can say is bon appÃ©tit!
Location based services are quite the rage these days. Although, recent data suggests that the market for these services might be shrinking (instead of growing), most companies remain bullish about the future of location oriented services. Google already has a couple of location based services like Latitude and Places. Now, the internet giant has launched Hotpot, which is a social recommendation service built on top of Places.
Google Places is quite good at aggregating data on local restaurants, bars, hotels etc. Hotpot uses the very same data and makes it more personal. Not only can you read up about restaurants in your vicinity, but you can also view what your friend’s think about them and add your own rating.
Interestingly enough, although Hotpot is a Google service, it doesn’t utilize your Google profile. This is probably due to potential privacy pitfalls. All reviews you submit to Hotpot are public. Anyone can read your review and check out your Hotpot profile. However, only friends will be able to see your Google profile.
There are already established players like Urbanspoon and Around Me. However, as always, Google’s biggest advantage is its ubiquity. Once Hotpot matures, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it baked into Android devices in some form. For now you can head over to www.google.com/hotpot to check it out yourself.
Update: Google has updated Maps for Android to add Hotpot integration.
Google has rebranded its Local Business Center and launched it as Google Places. There are million and ever rising searches on local business and business owners are looking for ways to stay on focus and on top of Google search results for local business. Google Places will help businesses connect with users from the real world.
John Hanke, VP Google Maps, Earth and Local says at The official Google,
We launched Place Pages last September for more than 50 million places around the world to help people make more informed decisions about where to go, from restaurants and hotels to dry cleaners and bike shops, as well as non-business places like museums, schools and parks. Place Pages connect people to information from the best sources across the web, displaying photos, reviews and essential facts, as well as real-time updates and offers from business owners.
Places promises to help business owners manage their online presence and claim their place in the niche. There are millions of businesses already on the Place Page through the Local Business Center. According to the blog post, you can get your business on Google Places too by “verifying and supplementing your business information to include hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons, product offerings and more”.
Some new features available in Google Places are Service Ares depicting geographic areas you provide services in, advertisements on Google search and Google Maps and business photo-shoots where businesses can get their work features as a photo-shoot for free. A new feature of real-time updates is also available for the last few months. Thus, you can easily promote a sale or discount day.
The final verdict is, if you have a business; do not forget to get it listed on google.com/places.