With Frommer's purchase, Google poaches a Microsoft partner

Google's purchase of the popular Frommer's series of travel guides gives it a premium source of information to combine with its search products. It also poaches a partner that exclusively provides data for a featured app in Windows 8.

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.

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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.