Google's decision to buy ITA Software for $700 million could have been an easy deal. ITA was happy, Google was happy -- the only problem was that several members of the online travel industry were not.
ITA supplied its flight comparison and flight data software to practically everyone -- travel agencies, airlines, tech companies and flight comparison websites. It's likely any reader who has searched for a flight online has used ITA's software. Google, which has branched into travel, saw the buy as a supplementing its search services. But online travel agencies like Expedia, and more importantly travel search engines like Kayak saw the competition as deadly.
Others in in the online travel industry like Microsoft, Travelocity and TripAdvisor joined Kayak, fearing Google might prevent them from using flight software or charge them a fee to be included in Google searches. These worries translated into regulators poring over the deal for the last six months for any antitrust violations against those already existing in the online travel industry. The U.S. Justice Department could take another six months before concluding the investigation and rendering a decision.
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If the deal goes through, it will definitely affect a few travel search engines. Why go to a niche search engine when the biggest one of all has the information you need? However, Google is a media company which sells advertising to make a profit, and its business model doesn't revolve around selling airline tickets or package tours. It's still unclear if Google absorbing ITA would actually be detrimental to online travel agencies, like Orbitz.com, which sell those services..