Google acquires ITA Software

by Alister POOLE on July 2, 2010

As Google looks to break into the travel industry, online booking agents are growing wary of the search engine giants $700m (£460m) purchase of a airline flight information aggregator.

ITA Software was acquired by Google as of this week in a venture that will see the search giant move into the online travel booking industry. The move, which has caused a stir among competitors such as Expedia, eBookers and Orbitz, could be challenged as an infringement upon fair competition.

Google announced that it would purchase the travel booking site, ITA, based in Massachusetts, as a means of offering its customers quicker access to flights and airfares. Although not as well-known as Expedia or Orbitz, ITA has become a key player in the online booking network.

Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt said that the ITA technology, founded by MIT scientists, would allow the search engine to create exciting possibilities for its customers. Google did assert, however, that the move was not a means for the search engine firm to dip into the public travel services sector, but rather an innovative way for making it easier for consumers to browse travel information.

Other online bookers have grown wary of the situation, however, with many concerned that the move will give Google a monopoly in online flight information. Kayak was concerned enough to approach Expedia to submit a joint offer for the firm in an attempt to keep Google from acquiring it. ITA, however, was already full into exclusive negotiations with the search engine giant and rejected negotiations.

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