Google Acquires Travel Search Firm ITA
Earlier this week Google announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire ITA, a 14-year-old Boston-based software company specializing in organizing airline data that includes flight times, availability and prices. The purchase price was said to be $700 million in cash, subject to adjustments.
With this purchase, Google said it plans to create flight search tools directly on Google.com, a move that could challenge the $132 million a year air travel industry, as well as upset Microsoft, its rival. D.C. Denison of The Boston Globe said, “Nearly 50 percent of airline tickets are purchased online. Microsoft’s Bing search service, which competes with Google, already has a prominent travel area that uses ITA software, and features tools like ticket price predictors.”
Providing such information directly is a new move for Google, a significant step in how it has traditionally conducted business so far.
Google declined to predict what kinds of services might result from the acquisition. In a conference call with Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products and user experience, she talked about being able to answer more open-ended travel queries, such as “Where can I get within seven hours and within this price?”
Antitrust regulators still need to review the deal however, yet Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, was quoted as saying: “We expect this will go through.”