In a move that might surprise some, Google has acquired ITA, a Boston-based software company specializing in organizing airline data.
One company that won’t be happy with this purchase is Microsoft. According to D.C. Denison of The Boston Globe “nearly 50 percent of airline tickets are purchased online. Microsoft’s Bing search service, which competes with Google, already has a prominent travel area that uses ITA software, and features tools like ticket price predictors.”
The deal which was worth $700 million will allow Google to use ITA’s flight software to “work on creating new flight search tools that will make it easier for you to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and get you quickly to a site where you can buy your ticket.”
Google anticipated the opposition it would receive from this acquisition and has created a website to outline the benefits of the purchase including:
Benefits for Consumers and Passengers
- Easier flight and airfare comparison shopping. Though 49% of travelers purchase travel online (PhoCusWright’s Consumer Travel Report, 2nd Ed. May 2010) it is still time consuming and slow to search for travel options online.
Airlines and Online Travel Agencies
- Better flight search means more sales. We believe that giving users better ways to search for flights online will encourage more users to make their flight purchases online, which will create more overall online sales for airlines and travel agencies.
- More traffic to airline websites. Google does not plan to sell airline tickets directly; our goal is to build a tool that drives more traffic to airline and online travel agency sites where customers can purchase tickets.
- Continued Relationships with ITA Software’s Customers. We are very excited about ITA Software’s QPX business, and we’re looking forward to working with current and future customers. Google will honor all existing agreements, and we’re also enthusiastic about adding new partners.
The final point is an interesting one; ITA’s partnerships include major travel search sites such as Hotwire, Kayak, and Orbitz. Logically, these sites currently take away search numbers from Google, so I wonder if these partnerships will still actually remain.