Sgt_Kickaxe - 2:45 am on Sep 9, 2011 (gmt 0)
This is NOT a move you make to prop up Google places, imo, the move is more of a piece in the puzzle of REPLACING website search results with a one stop review center. If your website covers 'local' take heed, Google aims to be your new yellow pages. Search is grand but shopping and advertising makes you rich, google knows this.
This will converge when they get the geo targeted mobile advertising up and running. You'll be walking down the street and your phone will call you to say "hey, we found a 33% discount on widgets located 1.2 miles from your current location and our records indicate you love widgets, don't miss out, here's the reviews".
See? Search is soon to be obsolete and it may very well be Google that kills it. The biggest danger to a Google run future is people unplugging from Google. Think about it, google wants to be your mobile phone, your browser, your ad server, your map and geo-targeting center and it has been building the pieces for many years. They just recently ditched products that don't fit into the mold and are picking up the pace. A well respected review service was needed to give their word a measure of worthiness when they tell you about bargains. google has been great at regurgitating a wide assortment of data but lousy at saying anything meaningful of an original nature, Zagat changes that.
Sounds like a lot of tinfoil hat speak but look at the puzzle pieces, they're almost together now.