Google acquires Frommer's, pushes further into travel info

The company acquired the travel guide service from John Wiley & Sons for an undisclosed sum, but may face critics alarmed by its growing clout in the travel arena.

Google is once again investing in the travel space.

The search giant is acquiring travel guide provider Frommer's from John Wiley & Sons. It's not immediately clear what Google might have planned for Frommer's, and a purchase price has not been divulged.

Wiley announced earlier this year that it would put Frommer's, which includes everything from travel guides to hotel ratings, on the purchasing block, though the company did not have any potential suitors in mind.

It's not all that surprising that Google has jumped in to swipe Frommer's. The company has been making a significant travel push over the last couple of years with its acquisitions of travel software provider ITA and restaurant reviewer Zagat. Presumably Frommer's is a natural extension of the Zagat purchase .

"The Frommer's team and the quality and scope of their content will be a great addition to the Zagat team," a Google spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "We can't wait to start working with them on our goal to provide a review for every relevant place in the world."

Printed travel guides have long been a key component in Frommer's operation. According to the Wall Street Journal, which spoke with Zagat managing director Bernardo Hernandez, Google doesn't know if it'll continue publishing the guides or make them online-only.

The big question mark now is how Google's competitors in the travel industry will respond to news of the Frommer's deal. After the search company announced plans to acquire ITA Software, which delivers services to a host of online travel planners, including Expedia, critics who feared Google complained that it would leverage search and ITA to harm competing businesses. Last October, a court finally decided that the agreement had enough safeguards in place to allow the $700 million acquisition.

"Finding the best home for this renowned program, as well as opportunities for many of the colleagues who helped to build it, ranked high among our criteria for choosing the buyer," a Wiley spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "We think Google is a great fit."

Google shares are up 1.69 percent to $652.85 following news of the acquisition.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.

 

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