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Google will launch its long-awaited flight search tool in a few weeks, according to a report by TechCrunch.
That means Google’s legal nightmare over its $700 million acquisition of ITA might finally be at an end. The whole hullabaloo started when the U.S. Department of Justice initiated an antitrust investigation, shortly after Google announced its plans to acquire ITA in July, 2010. At the time it announced the deal, Google stated that it wanted to “build new flight search tools” using ITA’s data while continuing to serve ITA’s existing customers.
A number of companies, including travel search company Expedia and Microsoft, which runs search rival Bing, launched the Fair Search Coalition to try to stop the acquisition. But not all travel companies have voiced concerns over the deal. Priceline.com, a major competitor to Expedia, and some others support the deal.
Google’s acquisition of ITA closed in April after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.
By delivering real-time flight data as an instant result to a search — much like when a search user puts a math problem in the search bar and gets a direct answer — Google could add another way to keep Internet browsers on its sites just a little longer. That means more ad revenue for Google and less for other travel sites.
Travel is a huge part of e-commerce — worth around $80 billion a year. ITA’s software handles around 65 percent of all e-commerce flight bookings, and travel advertising accounted for about 6 percent of all online advertising revenue, according to the coalition’s website, FairSearch.org.