Google Buys ITA Software and Enters Online Travel Market

News just in the Google has bought an online travel firm. ITA was set up in 2007 by a group of IT developers in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Google have paid $700 million for the company.

They plan to integrate the ITA travel information within their own search results in the same way that some retail products have now been integrated.

The main points of the deal are as follows (info source:

  • Google’s acquisition of ITA Software will create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online, which should encourage more users to make their flight purchases online.
  • The acquisition will benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares and by driving more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites. Google won’t be setting airfare prices and has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers.
  • Because Google doesn’t currently compete against ITA Software, the deal will not change existing market shares. 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.

QPX Travel Search Engine

QPX prides itself in its excellent search function in the online travel market. ITA Software make the following statements about the QPX search engine:

  • The deepest and most thoroughly customizable search
  • Highly advanced shopping features that drive sales
  • Built entirely on open systems architecture
  • Industry-leading uptime and performance
  • Integrates quickly and easily with existing systems

It certainly looks like a good product, and as more and more people turn to Google in their first step to organise travel it could help users. But, the big question is, is this good for users? Currently users who search Google for travel information should view a collection of sites based on the Google algorithm.

If Google are going to place the ITA data into their search results pages then Google may quickly monopolise online travel search which not only could mean users are not getting such a variety of choices but could put many other online travel companies out of business. Many small web entrepreneurs make a living from running their own price comparison sites, but if Google essentially bypasses them and provides its own results that link direct to agencies many existing websites may see a dramatic fall in revenue.

Is Google’s monopoly on search becoming too strong? Or will its ITA results have to strictly adhere to its own search engine page rank rules?

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