Could Google Acquisition of ITA Kill Online Travel Sales Industry

Seems many of the larger online travel sales sites fear Google's purchase of ITA - the technology behind 65% of all carrier-direct online flight searches in the U.S. - and have banded together to try and stop the sale, DailyFinance reported.

The alliance against the $700 million purchase include Expedia, Farelogix, Sabre Holdings and Kayak. The group has launched FairSearch.org to let internet users know that "this anticompetitive deal represents a broader pattern in Google's acquisition strategy - a strategy that threatens online competition, innovation and economic growth.

Interestingly this was not done when Google bought Urchin and started giving away analytics - effectively killing off many small companies in that space; nor was it around for any of the other purchases Google has made.

Now, as the site explains "a group of businesses united in support of a healthy Internet future, where greater consumer choice and economic growth are driven by competition, transparency and innovation in online search" has come forward.

Well more motivated by survival and the need to protect this multi-billion dollar industry from a potential vendor that would swamp these other sites given their direct control of the search space.

We search before we buy vacation travel and accommodations, we search for last minute deals or long term booking advantages when we travel for work - and the majority of these searches obviously start with Google or use it for additional information. With that type of edge Google could quickly dominate the space.

How this plays out should be interesting to watch. Is it a move that gets Google closer to an antitrust investigation? Has Google shown their hand of future plans to dominate online sales by getting closer to end process for various industries?

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.