Google Buys Frommer's, The Quite Good Travel Guide Company

Senior Contributor
08.14.12

When Google bought Zagat, deep inside I cringed. To understand why, buy a Zagat Guide for an area you’ve lived in for a few years. Flip through the restaurants. You’ll find an unrelentingly plague of mediocrity.

Zagat Guides are basically your aging aunts and uncles weighing in on restaurants. If Yelp is where annoying hipsters go to cry about how the waitress didn’t read their mind and how the restaurant is “overpriced” because it costs more than five bucks for a sandwich, Zagat is where their parents go to talk about how authentic that terrible Italian place down the street is.

And now Google is doubling down on the travel business: They’re buying Frommer’s.

To be fair, Frommer’s is very good at what it does, which is turn foreign countries into something fairly cheap and digestible for tourists scared of furriners. But the thing is, Google isn’t supposed to be Frommer’s. Google is supposed to be better than Frommer’s.

Travel books are out of date the minute they hit the presses. That’s just the way it works. And it’s true Google is largely just buying a trusted name.

Even so, the entire idea of Google is that we don’t have to trust out-of-date printed material. Instead we can ask it to find us a decent place to eat in London that doesn’t qualify as fraud and it’ll tell us such a thing doesn’t exist.

I get that Google wants to be everything to everyone when it comes to information, but does it have to become a frumpy tourist? Does it really have to cater to our parents? Come on, Google, we know you’re a bunch of dorks but at least try to be cool.

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