Google – What took you so long?
The only suprising thing in my opinion about Google’s announcement that they are to buy ITA is that they haven’t done something like this sooner. First we had Froogle/Base/Products, then Merchant Search (Finance), then we had Google Real Estate and now Google have announced that the Travel Sector is now on their hitlist.
ITA is a Boston (US) based software company specialising in organising airline data such as flight times, flight availability and pricing, similar to Amadeus (one of its biggest competitors). Given the synergies between ITA and Google in terms of data management, one would suggest this is a match made in heaven, and one that is likely to have significant repurcutions in the UK particularly for the likes of TravelSupermarket, Cheap Flights and potentially even more traditional travel organisations such as the airlines.
So why is this such big news. Well ITA provide information to a number of different vendors such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Bing, Continental Airlines, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz, Southwest Airlines, TripAdvisor, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and others who rely on this ITA data and will be a particular blow to Kayak and probably more so Bing who currently use the ITA results. Given the almost constant oneupmanship between the two over the course of the last couple of years, this would rank up their with the best of them
The deal will allow Google to pursue the creation of new flight search tools that will enable users to find better flight information more easily on the Internet. Google is excited about ITA’s QPX business and the opportunity to work closely with current and future customers. Google will honor all existing agreements and looks forward to adding new partners.
This is not the first travel related acquisition Google have done this year, with the purchases of Ruba earlier this year indicative of their intent. Further to much of the buzz round a potential takeover of Expedia in 2008/2009, this may suggest Google have decided to ‘create’ their own version of Expedia as an alternative to actually purchasing them. That would certainly have significant repurcussions within the travel sector given the size and influence that organisations such as Expedia and Amadeus currently have within the Travel sector at the present time.