Google has purchased one of the most popular local restaurant guides, according to a number of media reports.
"Google has acquired Zagat," writes Wired’s Epicenter blog.
Epicenter continues, "The acquisition strengthens Google’s position in local search, helping it compete with web-native companies like Yelp, particularly for high-volume searches for restaurants and hotels. It also means that much like Yahoo or Microsoft, Google increasingly owns some of the media content it serves up for searches outright, rather than simply indexing and influencing it."
The article continues, "Google tried to purchase Yelp in 2009; after it was rebuffed, it launched Hotpot as a competing service the following year."
The story adds, "Zagat is still somewhat unusual for a Google-owned company in two ways:
1. Zagat isn’t just a site, service or application, but a substantial creator and owner of original content that it publishes both digitally and in print;
2. The bulk of that content, particularly the high-value content, isn’t free to users and supported by ad revenue like most of Google, but financed by a combination of advertising, print and app purchases, and web subscriptions."
The story also notes, "Suddenly, Google isn’t the algorithmic lowest common denominator; much like the early days of its search and email products, it becomes the smart, informed, aspirational choice. Another possibility: Google puts its big web-sucking data machine to work, along with its brand-new Google+ social network content, and creates an improved digital counterpart to Zagat’s surveys."
Though best known for rating restaurants, Zagat also asks consumers to rate a whole host of other experiences, such as at stores and hotels.