Google has acquired ITA, developer of the airfare search and pricing system QPX that is used by major airlines. The deal is for $700 million in cash and comes after months of rumors about Google buying ITA.
Now that it’s a done deal, Google plans to move into the lucrative travel search business and compete with the likes of Bing Travel, Expedia and Kayak.
In a statement, Google’s VP Search Products & User Experience Marrisa Mayer says, “We’ll work on creating new flight search tools that will make it easier for you to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and get you quickly to a site where you can buy your ticket.”
Travel is one of the last major online verticals Google had not yet sunk its teeth into, though it’s long been assumed the company would eventually either build or buy something to compete. Back in 2008, the rumor was that the company would acquire Expedia.
On a website that Google’s created with more details about the acquisition, the company says: “Searches for travel-related information are among the highest-volume queries we receive at Google,” highlighting the obvious opportunity that exists in the space. Google does note, however, that whatever they launch will “refer people quickly to a site where they can actually purchase flights … we have no plans to sell flights ourselves.”
Now we’ll wait and see what they launch once the deal closes. We’ll also see what the response is from competitors, who probably always believed Google would launch a travel product, but now have to address a huge threat.