Monday, 11 April 2011

Google’s acquisition of ITA Software is approved

It’s been a dramatic weekend for the online travel industry as last Friday saw The US Justice Department approve Google Inc's purchase of ITA Software (but with stiff conditions).

The deal, which had been rumbling on for months, will have sizable implications for the online travel industry.  It represents a huge shift by Google into vertical search, something which has long been feared by online travel brands.

Google said it was "excited" to get the deal approved, and would soon bring out a new travel search tool. 

Stating on their blog ‘How cool would it be if you could type "flights to somewhere sunny for under $500 in May" into Google and get not just a set of links but also flight times, fares and a link to sites where you can actually buy tickets quickly and easily?’

Whilst they might be excited, many online travel brands including Kayak, Farelogix, Sabre and Expedia are not.  Last autumn the site - - was set up to fight the deal.  They argue the deal will harm competition in the industry, limit innovation, and expand Google’s dominance in search overall. are however pleased by the announcement that antitrust laws will be enforced.   They feel this enforcement action represents a significant milestone against anti-competitive behaviour.

The deal will most certainly affect search traffic – we’ll be discussing this (the good and the bad) in upcoming posts so stay tuned!

It’s important to note also that the deal will still be subject to further disputes.  The Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department are both contemplating an investigation into claims the internet search giant manipulates its results but there has been no decision made on which agency may take it up.