- October 3rd 2011
Google’s acquisition of ITA for $700 million just recently gained approval from the Department of Justice after nearly a year of deliberations over whether or not there were grounds for an anti-trust lawsuit. Google will be using the purchase to develop its Google Flight Search, which promises to take the ease of a Google search and apply it to the flight-finding world with a powerful, but simple, user-oriented design. Competitors are shaking in their boots and they have the every right to be.
Several companies like Orbitz, Kayak, and Microsoft (through Bing) had access to ITA’s airfare search and pricing system prior to the takeover and tried to prevent the takeover by attempting to purchase ITA jointly. Those companies were not successful but they will retain their rights to the software and coding they currently have.
Google’s $700 million buyout of ITA will need to lead to serious innovation if Google wants to rise above its well-entrenched competitors. Interestingly, much of the business for companies like Orbitz had, in the past, and will continue to come through Google searches. It will be interesting to see if Google tweaks its algorithm to favor its own services.
Google used the acquisition to launch “Google Flight Search.” Some might say it does little to distinguish itself from other, similar services in the market but further analysis and an eye towards the future says otherwise. Google is promising innovation, as well as expansion, and by integrating the new start-up with their search portal and new social-networking venture, they intend to redefine the way people go about booking flights. Here’s what they have so far.
A Breakdown of Google Flight Search
• Enables users to view flights using text searches entered into the traditional Google Search Bar.
• Allows users to exclusively search for flights using “Google Flight Search,” simply by clicking the airplane labeled “Flights” in the left margin of the search page.
• Instantly finds “Return Flights” based on your choice of “Outbound Flights” and provides direct links to booking companies where you can make your purchase.
• Provides easy access to relevant filters like “Non-stop Flights Only” or “2 Stops or Less.”
• Makes it so you can easily view outbound and return flights comparatively (in terms of price, time, and stops) from several different airports at once.
• Gives you access to a clean-looking calendar, letting you view price variations in ticket prices on a day to day basis.
• Contains a bar chart for finding out which days have the best deals from each airport that you are viewing.
• Shows ticket prices for popular destinations based on your current location using an interactive map
• Provides search filters to help you narrow down your options while searching for relevant flights on the interactive map.
Expected Features to be Added in the Future
• Compatibility with more airports in the United States
• Compatibility with international locations
While most people are familiar with the rise of Google, from humble search engine beginnings to Google Earth, and now Google+, here’s a little info on ITA, which you might not know quite so much about.
Background on ITA
• ITA is a company that was founded in the 1990s by a few computer science graduates from MIT.
• The company creates innovative software solutions that make the travel industry, specifically airlines, more efficient.
• They attempt to improve the industry by partnering with travel companies like American Airlines and “helping them slash costs, simplify their business, and improve customer service.”
Responses to the take-over have been mixed. While some are excited to see Google’s take on travel optimization and the competition it brings, others worry about the quickly expanding company that seems intent on having its hands on every aspect of our online experiences. Only time will tell, though the price tag on the purchase seems to suggest that this will be a large commitment on the part of Google moving forward.
Josey Wales enjoys writing and exploring the Colorado mountains. When he’s not on the mountain, he’s scouting out Vail lodging options for friends and family who request rentals in Vail for their next ski trip.