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Google were cleared for takeoff on Friday when the US Justice Department approved their purchase of the flight data software ITA for $700 million. However the flight path may be a turbulent one, with the US government still navigating the way.
Google’s intentions of expanding their business have been evident since the emergence of new CEO Larry Page [See: Google’s Growth Overshadowed by Management Reshuffle]. He has looked to continue Google’s expansion in key areas such as social networking and other areas of business such as the multibillion online travel market; and thanks to the US Justice Department, Google are doing exactly that.
It is reported that ITA, the flight data software has been sold to Google for $700 million. However the deal comes with some strong conditions set out by the Justice Department. It is believed to be the first time that Google have agreed a business deal that includes government conditions.
These conditions include a licensing deal to online airfare search sites for 5 years, they must continue to fund research and development of the software and to protect ITA clients’ intellectual property by establishing firewalls.
In addition to these stipulations, Google are to allow the US Department of Justice to track their compliance for 5 years. This comes at a time where competitors are worried about Google’s dominance and influence over SERPs. The reason for such an antitrust regulation follows a number of complaints from Google’s rivals, notably price flight comparison websites.
It is believed that opponents such as Microsoft, Expedia and Kayak are pleased with the Justice Department’s stance on the deal. No great surprise really seeing as Microsoft has got previous with Google regarding anti-trust action. They alleged that Google were manipulating or making it difficult for their videos to appear on the Google owned YouTube which resulted in an anti-trust probe from the European Commission.
Google’s determination to get a grip on the online travel market is becoming increasingly evident and yesterday, Search Engine Land leaked frames of Google’s new SERPs that include hotel prices. Google have been testing the software called Hotel Price Ads for a while and from the frames it appears these are to be implemented with the main SERPs. One example of the three given can be seen below:
The above frame may well be a precursor to how the flight information is also going to be displayed. Either way, it was vehemently indicated by Google that the hotel price ads do not influence search results. Not surprising really, especially post ITA deal where this has to be the case.
These are exciting new times for Google as they continue their monumental growth. However for the first time in 12 years they have concluded a business deal with a proviso from the US government. This time it is Google that are being watched.