Once upon a time, Yelp danced around the idea of being bought by Google for a rumored $750 million. They walked away from that deal in late 2009, with the rumor being that another suitor, likely Microsoft, was offering them a sweeter deal. Then in 2011, Google acquired Zagat for the bargain price of $151 million, and last month brought Zagat reviews out from behind their paywall veil and into the light for the first time with Google + Local. (We would have called the venture Zagoogle.) And today we find Yelp and Microsoft cuddled up to each other, with excerpts of Yelp reviews popping up in Bing searches. Bing is only used in about a third of all Internet searches in this country, but Yelp's got some other tricks up its sleeve.
First, consider the fact that Yelp pages already rank high in Google search results for many businesses in a number of markets, particularly the Bay Area. Yelp and Microsoft are already worried that that will change as Google promotes its own Google Places pages in a move that may violate antitrust laws. (Look for that to play out in the courts in the coming months and years.)
Yelp already inked a deal with Apple to be a featured component of the upcoming Apple Maps app in the next version of iOS. Apple's map feature will replace Google Maps, which has powered Apple's mobile devices and navigation functionality since the dawn of the first iPhone. So, Yelp is having a good week.
And no matter how you feel about Yelp, or whether you believe all those persistent extortion-esque claims against them, they are here to stay. Forbes is not going out on a limb in saying, "Yelp is one of the dominant replacements to the colored pages directories of the world ... [and] to think that consumer review sites are going to disappear any time soon, or ever, is a mistake."
Yelp serves restaurant reviews to Microsoft's Bing [Business Week]
Yelp Joins Bing Search Engine And Apple Maps - Ignore At Your Own Risk [Forbes]
Earlier: Google and Zagat Make First Big Move Together, Announce Google+ Local
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