Google’s transition from a content aggregator to a content creator continued today with the news that the company had purchased the Frommer’s line of travel guides. Frommer’s is a good fit with Zagat, the popular restaurant guide that Google snapped up last year.
The deal also deals a blow to Microsoft, which is prominently featuring Frommer’s content in one of the signature apps installed by default with Windows 8.
The Travel app is visually impressive, with magazine-style collections of images and information about hundreds of destinations worldwide. It’s a great showcase for the “modern” (oops, almost called it Metro!) design style characteristic of Windows 8 apps. so it's no wonder it's also a staple of Windows 8 demos.
But the content is exclusively derived from Frommer’s, and the links to attractions, hotels, and restaurants are all prominently identified as such.
By taking over that information source, Google is giving itself the opportunity to control access to that information, especially the updates that make a web-based service useful. If the content in the Windows 8 Travel app turns stale while the Frommer’s details on Google’s properties are up to date, guess who loses?
Microsoft says a growing part of its strategy involves “cloud-based services used with smart client devices.” This type of content is what provides oxygen to those services. Microsoft is now in the painful position of having to choose: stick with the premium travel information provider that now happens to be owned by its archrival, or switch to a new, possibly inferior supplier. (A Microsoft spokesperson said the company had no comment on the Frommer's deal.)
And that’s the blueprint for the next 10 or 20 acquisitions on Google’s list.