Google will reportedly acquire Frommer’s, publisher of travel guides for destinations around the world. Just as it did with Zagat’s restaurant guides last year, Google is rolling up professional guides to local places and businesses. As search becomes a more futuristic convenience, Google wants to be able to answer your every question about what to do and where to go. If it doesn’t, Apple’s Siri will.
Google’s travel search is getting pretty sophisticated. Thanks to its acquisition of ITA Software in 2010 it has access to detailed flight schedule and fare information, which it can present in response to travel-related searches right inside search results. Between its own data, what’s publicly on the Web, and now even the flight reservations in your Gmail, Google can now provide almost all the convenience of booking a flight.
With Frommer’s and Zagat content, Google will provide the same kinds of rich results once you get to your destination. Google+ Local incorporates these professional reviews with check-ins and comments from Google users. Google wants to provide as much information about the world around you as it can directly, right on the search page. Results for travel, shopping and local business are among the most valuable, since they provide ideal opportunities for targeted local advertising.
Google wants to become the Star Trek computer. Search is no longer just about matching keywords to a list of Web pages. It’s about answering questions with actionable information. For the same reason, Apple is building Siri to answer these kinds of searches with data from services like Yelp. Google wants to own authoritative sources like Frommer’s so it can work the same way, backed by its unparalleled understanding of what the Web says.
And when Apple approves the next update to the Google app for iOS, Apple users will be able to ask Google for answers the same way they ask Siri.