Wheelings & Dealings: Google Buys, Kills Appetas As Part Of Larger Strategy Against Yelp

By Steve Anderson May 08, 2014

When it comes to where to eat out, there seem to be no end of choices, especially if you're willing to make a bit of a drive from where ever you happen to be. Figuring out the specifics of “what's for dinner”, meanwhile, often leads people to turn to Yelp to get a better handle on what to try that night. But Yelp has plenty of competitors, not least of these Google, and Google just made a surprising new move in a bid toward taking Yelp down a peg or two: it bought Appetas in a deal whose terms were undisclosed.

Appetas is a site which gives restaurants a set of tools to create websites, which can be very helpful in terms of marketing; especially when basic features like locations, hours, and menus are clearly displayed. Appetas even allows users to bring in features from other services like OpenTable and GrubHub, which in turn can provide access to things like reservation setups or even delivery services where available. This makes it a pretty good acquisition for Google, all right...but the plan is to shut down Appetas altogether.

Why shut down a service that has so much to offer? Appetas co-founders Curtis Fonger and Keller Smith actually offer a reasonable explanation on the company's blog, saying that, essentially, a substantial portion of Appetas will be reappearing later as part of Google's lineup. Interestingly, though, Appetas users won't be left out in the cold. Reports suggest that the company will be helping users move to other platforms, and will even be reaching out to each user on an individual basis to help make that move. Though it's worth noting that just what platforms will be getting referrals here is, as yet, unclear.

It's not surprising to see a move like this come around. Granted, it may be a little odd of Google to shut down the service without having something ready to go in its place, but it's still a very rational move. Google's bread-and-butter right now—as has been the case for years—is search and the accompanying advertising that goes along with it, so for Google to augment search is just a natural move. Getting search into restaurants is particularly useful; it becomes shockingly easy to envision a normal work day that starts out by hitting Google Docs and similar tools to do a morning's work, hit Google to find a place for lunch, return from lunch, hit the tools again and then maybe find a place for dinner. The more that Google can offer, the less the chance users will leave it, and that means the better overall proposition Google can offer to advertisers in turn. Meanwhile, restaurants get access to a new and better way to promote menus and the food found on same, which gives a better chance at profitability. Discovery is no less an issue for brick-and-mortar retailers—restaurants included—than it is for restaurants; so offering up a better chance at being found online is likely going to be welcome for restaurants too, making it an attractive proposition for restaurants to come under Google's wing and use.

Only time will tell just what comes out of Google's acquisition of Appetas and how it translates into new Google services. But one thing is quite clear: there's plenty of room here for expansion, and it may well be that users get a valuable new service out of the deal besides.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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