By SHANNON KELLY
Google’s acquisition of travel publisher Frommer’s last week for $25 million was big news in travel. Google bought Zagat last year and seems to be steadily moving toward being a travel content provider in addition to a search engine with lots of perks for travellers, like Google Flight Search (launched in June in Canada) and offline maps (also launched in June, for Android users).
But can you trust a search engine that provides its own content?
That’s the question some are asking, and U.S. consumer protection non-profit Consumer Watchdog is attempting to block the sale, citing antitrust laws and claiming that Google has “has unfairly favored [its own content and services] in its search results and damaged competitors.” Crowd-sourcing Web sites like TripAdvisor are also concerned that Google will favour its own content.
On the other hand, blocking the sale could stymie innovation—i.e. Google delivering better content to users more quickly—in which case, not allowing Google to acquire Frommer’s would do the opposite of what antitrust laws are meant to do: service the consumer.