This is interesting. Why would Google pay somewhere between $100 million and $200 million for Zagat, the restaurant guide? Why didn’t they just crowd source their own reviews or aggregate other peoples’ content rather than buying a company that still puts ink onto bits of dead trees?
OK, Zagat have an OK website and an iPhone app and that will mesh nicely with Google maps, but, again, why not use user generated and user filtered content? Why buy it?
I think it’s due to two things, one obvious and one perhaps less so.
The obvious thing is the growth in local search and information. This fits.
Most of Zagats reviews are written by locals and Google needs to create original content too.
The less obvious thing is, perhaps, that Google wants to be known for the quality of it’s information and millions of potential people with too much online time on their hands is no match for a few hundred passionate people and a handful of editors that actually know what they are talking about.