In a press release issued early today, Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity announced that they have formed FairSearch.org, a coalition of large online travel sites and travel technology companies, banded together in an effort to urge the Justice Department to challenge Google’s proposed $700 million purchase of ITA Software.
ITA powers some of the Web’s most popular airline-ticket search and booking sites, including Kayak.com and Hotwire.com. Expedia (owner of Hotwire and Expedia.com) as well as Kayak and Microsoft, whose Bing search engine relies on ITA for airfare searches, argued to Justice Department antitrust lawyers that with ITA’s data and technology Google could gain an unfair competitive advantage because it would, “enable Google to manipulate and dominate the online air travel marketplace. The end result could be higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search.”
It didn’t take Google long to respond from it’s blog, stating that the deal would not result in higher travel prices or fewer choices for consumers because ITA and Google aren’t competitors, and that ITA doesn’t set ticket prices for sell tickets and Google doesn’t plan to either. Google also noted that the three most popular travel websites in the U.S. – Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity – all use data provided by ITAs competitors. (Doh!)
Google said that it won’t be “choosing winners and losers in online travel” because its goal is to build tools that drive more traffic to airline and online travel agency sites and that those tools will create more overall online sales for those sites. And by combining ITA’s ability to analyze data on seat availability and pricing with Google’s search engine could end the “frustrating experience” today’s airfare search, where a “simple two-city itinerary involves literally thousands of different options.”
Sounds a lot like the plot to the popular TV mini-series “V”. The one where aliens move in and say they come in peace, but actually have sinister motives. They claim to only need a small amount of Earth’s resources, in exchange for which they will share their advanced technological and medical knowledge. As a small number of humans begin to doubt the sincerity of the seemingly benevolent aliens, it’s discovered that the aliens have spent decades infiltrating human governments and businesses and are threatening to take over the Earth.
Awesome. Can’t wait to see how the real-life version plays out.
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