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Google Acquires ITA Software, Regulators May Balk 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-me-in-coach dept.
marino02 tips news that Google has acquired ITA Software, a company who sells travel-related software and information, for $700 million. "Google said it plans to use ITA's technology in its Web search tools and to allow potential passengers to shop for tickets right from Google. Travel search makes up a huge portion of Google searches, but it's a complicated type of search to express in a query box, [said Marissa Mayer]." Analysts expect the deal to come under scrutiny from the FTC. "With this deal, Google will have transformed itself into one of the biggest power brokers in the travel industry. It will control the leading software for powering online airline reservations. It will be able to provide something in its own search results above and beyond what its competitors — who merely license the ITA software — will be able to produce. And it will become the leading online advertising buy for travel-related advertisers (assuming it wasn't already) if it doesn't butcher the rollout of user-friendly airline search tools within Google's already popular interface."
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Google Acquires ITA Software, Regulators May Balk

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  • Why travel? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday July 02, 2010 @02:53PM (#32777782) Journal

    With google earth and street view I don't actually need to leave the basement any more.

  • I am (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    getting sick of Google EVERYWHERE.

    Where is the FTC. Ooooops, I forgot. It's an oligarchy.

    Yours In Krasnoyarsk,
    Kilgore Trout

  • by longacre (1090157) on Friday July 02, 2010 @02:55PM (#32777814) Homepage
    Hey, Bing, sorry that latest software update caused all your flights to be listed as "Oceanic 815." We'll roll out a fix for that in the next 4-6 months.
  • Finally, a company that I have a little faith in might FINALLY get the travel industry sorted out.
  • Google Maps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:02PM (#32777926) Journal
    I'm anticipating the next time I use Google Maps to have the options of traveling by car, bike, walking, public transit, and by air.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by hemlock00 (1499033)

      Why stop there, I got a bunch of useful ones.

      -By Car, but you get stuck in 40 minutes of *#^&)(@# traffic

      -By Bike and you get 2 flats from the road liter

      -By Air, considering you're going to leave the gate on time so they can classify it as on time but then sit on the tarmac for 4 hours while they feed you some bullshit excuse like your luggage is coming when in reality the engine is on fire and they want a 2-dollar fix so they can keep your money

      These would be equally, if not more helpful than the optio

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To be honest, this would be pretty sweet.

      Sort by:
      * fastest
      * cheapest
      * shortest

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bberens (965711)
        Yes, I'd like to go from Orlando to Las Angeles... sort by cheapest: bike, 5283 hrs.
        • by josath (460165)
          Actually I just checked, it's only 224 hours. I assume that's bicycling non-stop though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WarJolt (990309)

      I just hope they keep the option to "Swim Across the Atlantic Ocean". My commute isn't complete until I swim 3462 miles.

      • by Amouth (879122)

        if i remember right they got rid of that a few weeks ago after a lady sued them for telling her to walk down the middle of a highway while following the walk line on her crackberry and was hit by a car.

        • Nope, walking directions from my house to the Sydney Opera House includes:

          218. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean (Entering Japan)

          No wonder it's estimated at 184 days!

    • API (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jDeepbeep (913892)
      Definitely. I feel reasonably safe in assuming they'll publish a Flights API along with that. Some nice apps could be built on that in conjunction with voice-search.
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:10PM (#32778046)

    at southwest.com.

    I find it amusing that 15 years ago people laughed because all they gave you was a bag of free bag of peanuts and a soda. Today they are a luxury because they don't charge you for bags and still give you a free bag of peanuts and a free soda.

    And they are the only airline I fly domestically these days.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:15PM (#32778130)

      Too bad they don't offer international flights. Heck, I wish we would let international carriers offer domestic flights. Lufthansa is no wonder carrier but the service made any US carrier look like Hobo-Air.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Free peanuts and a soda? Meh. How about an assigned seat?

      I personally _love_ to stand 40 minutes to an hour prior to my flights just so I can get a decent seat. I mean what else would I be doing, trolling slashdot? Sheesh.

      Cattle call!

      • by kidgenius (704962)
        All planes start boarding 30 minutes before takeoff. Everyone does it. All require lining up too. And with Southwest you have assigned numbers so you know how to line-up. What's the big deal? The only reason I end up standing 40 minutes prior toa flight is because all the chairs are taken up by one person who has their bag sitting on the chair next to them....
      • by timeOday (582209)

        I personally _love_ to stand 40 minutes to an hour prior to my flights just so I can get a decent seat.

        You're referring to a system they stopped using a few years ago. Now, they give you a number based on when you check in online (you can also get a low number by flying alot, or paying extra), and you board in that order. You can remain seated right until they board the block of numbers that includes yours. You don't really *need* to be at your computer exactly 24 hours before your flight to check in

        • How the hell does one "check in" without being.. well.. in.

          • by timeOday (582209)
            Granted, they are probably abusing the term. But I really like it, since I sometimes have to book fairly soon before a trip, yet I still get a shot at a decent seat so long as I book at least 24 hours in advance. (On the other hand, they'll never give you a free 1st class upgrade like other airlines - since they don't have any such thing!)
          • by socsoc (1116769)
            You're confirming within 24 hours that you will be there, to the best of your ability, and aren't flaking on the flight.
    • by Hercynium (237328)

      and yet... southwest is an ITA customer, for the functionality on their own site (and possibly other authorized sales channels) though they still don't allow their fares to be used for cross-shopping search.

      (former ITA employee who is currently wondering what his shares would be worth right now)

    • by socsoc (1116769)

      still give you a free bag of peanuts and a free soda.

      Except last time I flew them peanuts were banned from being passed out on the flight because someone had an allergy. They also scolded people who opened peanuts from previous flights or had brought their own...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mortlath (780961)
        I have a daughter with a peanut allergy you insensitive clod!

        But seriously, since Southwest doesn't clean up between flights (only once in the morning), we can no longer take Southwest anymore. Even if they ban peanuts on our flight, there is too much old peanuts on the seats, floor, and air. Last time my daughter started getting a bad reaction and we had to douse her with medicine to keep it from getting life-threatening.

        People don't realize that just a little bit of peanuts around can cause those wi

    • by Amouth (879122)

      we have guys flying all the time - and most of them will only fly southwest.. one of the guys would rather, and does, drive 8 hours to a client rather than fly american (the only option for that client's city)

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:13PM (#32778096) Homepage

    "Google has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers", they say. However, Google Corporate Travel could be a big moneymaker. Companies will pay for outsourcing services to handle and account for their employee travel.

    • by Restil (31903)

      I don't think google WANTS to handle that process. That's not really what they do. They probably just want you to be able to type in a city and links for flights to that city from where you're at will show up in the search results, complete with prices, along with the news, shopping, ads and youtube results, as well as the regular search results. They just want to do the searching. The financial transaction can be handled by someone else.

      -Restil

  • Try it out (Score:5, Informative)

    by feenberg (201582) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:16PM (#32778154)

    You can use the ITA engine at http://matrix.itasoftware.com/cvg/dispatch [itasoftware.com] and it is really quite good compared to most airline/agency websites. However, it won't actually sell you a ticket.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tjhayes (517162)
      It's significantly better than "really quite good". It is EXCELLENT. It's very quick, and the searches it executes can be VERY customizable. Let's say you wanted to fly from NYC to LAX, only on United, with exactly 1 stop, and that stop MUST be in Chicago. ITA can perform that exact search for you. It's really quite amazing how well it works.
  • Thank god for that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnnyUK (1847438) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#32778434)
    I'm glad. Airline websites have had forever to get this right and yet, for me, one of the most frustrating things to do on the internet is find a flight in any sensible fashion.
    • by novex (515891)

      yep, was just talking with a friend the other day about how irritating it is trying to find decent flight info, and how google should clean up the competition.

  • I'm sporting a sassy Google Sportcoat, stylish, ruffled sleeve button down Google shirt, and smart pair of Google slacks, purchased, I might add, on Google. I saw the ad for it on my iPhone. Or at least I did. Now I get some shit about crap I don't want. None of it don't say Google on it. Damn phone is headin for a class action. Shit. Soon I'll by flying Google Air, and at substantial discount, by purchasing tickets via Google - I know because I price checked it there. They've even got Google Snacks for all
  • Didn't Google pay something like twice as much as Apple was willing to pay for the ad company Apple wanted to buy? Now another $700 million for this company? I know it's not true, but sometimes it feels like Google has more money than the government. It's pretty amazing how much they throw around.
  • Lisp (Score:4, Insightful)

    by White Flame (1074973) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:05PM (#32778746)

    ITA's core technology is written in Lisp. It's nice to see more real-world success stories like this, and that using a less popular language for the core IP doesn't prevent sale of a software company.

  • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:08PM (#32779698)
    >It will control the leading software for powering online airline reservations

    Anybody ever heard of Galileo? Amadeus anyone?


    Is this ITA something that is only used in the US? BTW, whatever happened to SABRE?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ITA is to Sabre as Google is to index cards.

      One of the founders of ITA examined the rules published by the central authority through which all airlines publish their flight availability data. The ITA founder proved those rules make problems that are NP-complete. He used ITA's search engine to implement a Turing machine using only the rules as defined by the central authority. He used that Turing machine to perform other calculations, all centered around proving certain properties of the data structures defi

      • by bunyip (17018) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:04PM (#32780484)

        I think ITA made a great deal of hype around their NP proof, but the complexity of the search was known by many and was known before ITA published their results. For example, Tom Holloran (United Airlines) published a paper at AGIFORS in the 1980's that showed the equivalence to a set covering / set partitioning problem.

        Sabre's fare search engine was rewritten from scratch in C++ & Java starting about the same time ITA started. The search engine runs on a Linux cluster, and independent benchmarks show that it is the leader in finding the lowest fares. In fact, pretty much *all* the major players in fare search run on x86 clusters. You could look this up online too :-)

  • It seems that Google's goal is to be a monopoly in every section of the internet.
  • So, this is interesting. Good vs. Evil aside, those who like less U.S. Govn't should be like "Screw you FTC! It's a free market and it regulates itself! Google is making it's own earnings and not mooching off of welfare! They should also have to pay less taxes because they generate jobs and revenue for many of previously mentioned moochers. If anything, they deserve a tax break. I mean, I don't make 1/googleth of the money they do, but those are *my* beliefs!" Right?

    Then on the other side we have "So, n
  • "Google said it plans to use ITA's technology in its Web search tools and to allow potential passengers to shop for tickets right from Google. "

    Bullshit! They say the exact opposite:
    http://www.google.com/press/ita/faq.html [google.com]

    "It's also important to note that our goal will be to refer people quickly to a site where they can actually purchase flights, and that we have no plans to sell flights ourselves. "

    They are a search company, they have noticed a lot of people are searching for flights - so they are prepared

  • Bing's "Travel" section is pretty good for finding flights. It's quick, clean, and the results are trustworthy in my experience. They've even got a "price predictor" feature that can save you a couple bucks if you're prepared to check prices every day and pounce when a good deal comes along. In fact - the only time that I'll use Bing over Google is when I'm buying plane tickets.

    I know it's not a fashionable thing to say in these parts - but I love Google products. I was happy to hear about this acqui
  • Google made the transit info in my city usable. The previous system written by the local transit authority was a usability and performance nightmare.

    Shopping for flights and hotels online is currently a godawful mess of bad user experience,
    including ridiculously useless middlemen (highwaymen) hijacking your searches.

    I once went through a 6, 7 or 8 page form sequence to search for and order an airline ticket (departing from my home city) before it told me obliquely that "you can't do that from your country".

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