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Google are once again expanding their horizons with the proposed acquisition of travel software firm ITA software inc.
The search giant is forever looking for new opportunities to develop the (not inconsiderable) services they currently provide. With the ink still drying on a $700 million deal to buy ITA software inc. travel appears to be very much in their sites.
Having developed one of the leading airfare tracking systems, ITA software has a lot of clout when it comes to travel comparison. Google will undoubtedly try to combine this software with their own unrivalled search capabilities to provide a definitive travel service within their current engine.
Microsoft of course have a head start in this field, with their own search engine already benefiting from Bing Travel. This uses Microsoft property Farecast to generate travel information and price comparison, currently competing with sites like Kayak. With Google looking to enter the fray, travel search could be ready to evolve again.
As with all Google acquisitions, this will have to go through some stringent antitrust testing before approval. However, CEO Eric Schmidt seems remarkable self-assured about it all, claiming “We are pretty confident that this is pro-competitive and pro-consumer.” If approval is granted, it will certainly be interesting to see what effect it has not only on Google, but on Bing travel too.
With Google already looking to increase the amount of time visitors spend using their services (see left hand navigation and Google Buzz) as well as the number of visits they receive, a travel element would certainly appear to tick both boxes. Increasingly the search engine is becoming (or at least attempting to become) a one-stop shop for all search and communication requirements; this could well be another step towards being a complete search package – for better or worse.