Google Relaunches Zagat App With Yelp In Mind

As of last week, the Google+ Local mobile app for iOS was killed by Google.  According to Google, all of the same content was available in Google Maps for iOS.  It was announced that the relaunch of the Zagat site and the mobile app for Android and iPhone was a-go.

All of the content found on Zagat is now free and there’s not a single bit of registration to be found.  Despite the fact that the Zagat content is also available through Google Maps, the Zagat app and Google Maps are still two different app entities.

The redesigned app is going to be launched in nine cities, but it was promised that it will come to 50 cities in the near future:

The new Zagat covers restaurants and nightlife in nine cities, and over the coming months we plan to expand to 50 U.S. and international destinations and cover shopping, hotels and other places of interest. We know that many of you are eager to have continued access to our content in these markets, so in advance of this expansion, we’ll soon make our existing ratings and reviews available on Zagat.com.

Just a couple of years ago, the purchase of Zagat cost $100 million, but it is estimated that it’s worth $130 million to over $150 million.  Although Google has been able to preserve the brand, you can’t ignore the fact that Zagat is over 30 years old.  How long will it last?  That remains to be seen.  At this point, there is no indication that Google is going to shut it down anytime soon.

 Zagat 1

By the large, Google has absorbed Zagat scores into Google Maps and local search results.  Without the Zagat brand, those scores aren’t very valuable.  This is, of course, if Google can turn them into “Google Scores.”  Even with Google’s desire to bring social data, personalization, recommendations and discovery to Google Maps, there is something that Zagat can still bring to the table.  Editorial content, as well as it’s trusted brand.

In the new app, you can search for places, although search isn’t emphasized very well.  The main object of Zagat is discovery and “curated” content, as well as “best of” lists and editorial roundups.  It seems that Google hopes that the app will help it further compete with Yelp, whose advantage over Google Maps it the content depth that it provides.

It’s possible that another competitor that Google is targeting is TripAdvisor.  Hotels is one of the verticals that Zagat covers and rates.  Although somewhat unlikely, Facebook’s Nearby Places could be on the Google’s radar as well.  To many, Zagat is a trusted source of local reviews and recommendations vs Googld and other less venerable sources.

Although print sales are waning, since Google appears to be deemphasizing the Zagat print books, without print, Zagat will have substantially less value in the marketplace.  Indeed after print is shuttering the independent Zagat brand won’t live on much after that.