I have been familiar with and have used Tim and Nina Zagat’s restaurant guide for more than twenty years. I’ve long since given up the printed books for an on-line subscription which offers me access to Zagat reviews for restaurants all over the world as opposed to one city, state or area in a printed book.
AdAge released a pretty thorough overview yesterday – http://bit.ly/o6Mdv1 noting that Google’s reasoning was that Zagat was truly local and this fits with Google’s desire to elevate Google Places to a higher value proposition. The New York Times called Google’s purchase of Zagat a ‘consolation prize’. I agree.
While Zagat has a good history of delivering solid user reviews I have become accustomed to Yelp’s easy to used location based application and am dubious that Zagat and Google can improve upon the user experience provided by Yelp – http://www.Yelp.com.
Zagat does not cover many places I visit and consequently it would be of no use to me in a small town that Zagat does not cover. However that’s not the case with Yelp. Yelp’s main drawback as far as I am concerned is the paucity of user reviews when it comes to individual restaurants. The sample reviews are often too small to trust.
When it comes to Yelp I do love the amount of choices that the location based service offers me – the distances to the locations are very helpful, and Yelp goes far beyond restaurants – bars, attractions, movies, museums and much more. Did I mention that the downloaded Yelp app is free?
Google did ‘try’ to buy Yelp a couple of years ago for $500 million. (The terms of the Zagat sale to Google were not released). The article in AdAge notes there are conflicting reasons why the sale did not go through. Rest assured if Google really had wanted to buy Yelp the deal would have happened.
I can see the deal making sense from the family owned perspective of the Zagat’s. It probably is exactly the right time for them to cash out and work on other things as the company they started 32 years ago is in a much different marketplace today. I am betting they would rather spend their time (and money) doing other things.
Google has made a lot of really smart moves (see YouTube and Google+ for instance). However I think they bet on the wrong horse in this race.
How do you find places to eat when you go to a new city – or want to try any new restaurant?