Google Acquires Frommer's: Too Much Power?
Earlier this month, Google bought the 55-year-old Frommer's travel guidebook company for 23-million. They fired the Frommer's web staff and moved the rest of the company to the Zagat floor at Google headquarters in New York. This is the latest travel-related acquisition by Google that is a clear aggressive foray into the hospitality industry by Google. But why? And is it ethical?
This whole thing started in 2010 when Google bought ITA Software for $700 million. They incorporated its data into Google Flight, which allows browsers to plan flight details right from Google search. They followed this up by buying Ruba in 2012 for the talent, and then Zagat earlier this year for $151 million for their review system, which they have since incorporated into Google Local.
To date, all of their travel related purchases have been incorporated into many of Google's search-related products. This has made it so users don’t have to go to 3rd party sites, like Expedia and Priceline, to do much of their travel research. They can use Google's Hotel Finder to find a hotel and even book a room, and plan their trip using Google Flight. It's clear that Google sees the huge value in the multi-billion-dollar travel industry, and they want a slice of the pie.
This is why many travel competitors, including Expedia, Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Kayak and others, have lodge complaints against Google for their recent Frommer's buy, saying that "Google is abusing its already dominant position in search " which will "lead to devastating effects on the online economy". We at buuteeq believe traffic should be directed to hotel websites, so guests can learn about the hotel from the owner, not from a search engine or OTA. In short, Google is trying to monopolize all aspects of the travel planning process.
Buying Frommer's adds high quality, relevant data to Google's search results, meaning that guests don't have to go to other sites to research their destination anymore. Is this step too much? Has Google crossed a line by switching from being a content curator to a product company? Do you think this step is unethical, or that they are trying to develop a monopoly? Sound off with your opinions in the comments.