New Video Attacks Google/ITA Acquisition

FairSearch.org has released a new video titled "Google Buys ITA – A Travel Story," to illustrate how they believe Google’s proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software could harm travelers and consumers (visit www.FairSearch.org or www.vimeo.com/16369890).

FairSearch.org is a group of online travel and technology companies urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to block the Google-ITA deal. The coalition is promoting the "Google Buys ITA – A Travel Story" video through sponsorship of Politico's early-morning e-mail tipsheet, Playbook, during election week (running Monday-Friday this week). Playbook has 60,000 email subscribers and 100,000 page views per week online.

Members of FairSearch.org include Expedia Inc., and its brands Expedia.com, Hotwire and TripAdvisor; Farelogix Inc.; KAYAK, and its brand SideStep; and Sabre Holdings, and its brand Travelocity. Google has vigorously defended the proposed acquisition.

Leading online travel sites and travel technology companies formed the FairSearch.org coalition to support competition, transparency and innovation in online search. The coalition is urging the Justice Department to challenge Google’s proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, the flight search technology that powers many of the web’s most popular travel sites, including KAYAK and Hotwire.

Acquiring ITA Software would give Google control over the software that powers most of its closest rivals in travel search and could enable Google to manipulate and dominate the online air travel marketplace, the coalition argues. The end result could be higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search, the coalition says.

Google is estimated to be the source of more than 30 percent of all search engine traffic to online travel sites, delivering more visitors than any other search engine, the primary way internet users navigate to U.S. industries online, according to Experian Hitwise. Google is also the dominant provider of online search, controlling more than 70 percent of U.S. searches, according to Experian Hitwise.

“Combining Google and ITA – the dominant providers of web search and flight search technology, respectively – raises some serious concerns for travelers and the online travel industry as a whole,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, Inc.

Thomas Barnett, who served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division from 2005 to 2008 and who serves as counsel to Expedia, said Google could use ITA Software to stifle competition in online flight search and to extend its dominance in Internet search into search for online travel, which is the largest segment of e-commerce, FairSearch.org said.

“ITA plays a crucial role in online flight search and has been a key driver of competition and innovation in online travel,” said Barnett. “The Justice Department needs to thoroughly investigate the proposed acquisition and to take whatever action is necessary to prevent harm to consumers in online flight search as well as online travel search more generally.”


 

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