When it comes to finding things on the Internet, there’s one company that controls the vast majority of the search market–Google. They currently perform over 70% of all Internet searches. Most people, however, have probably never heard of ITA Software, but many have probably used their product at some point.
ITA is responsible for the technology that powers some of the largest travel websites on the Internet, including Bing Travel, Orbitz, TripAdvisor, Hotwire, and many individual airline company sites. Now, Google is trying to buy ITA, which would solidify them as the leaders in travel search. What does this mean for the average person looking to book a flight? The American Consumer Institute sums it up well:
Google’s search dominance means that it can direct consumers to its top ranked sites and advertisers, thereby influencing what we read and where we shop online. Because it could drive search traffic to its products, Google’s search dominance also gives Google a major advantage over competitors in developing online markets.
So because of this dominance, who do you think comes out ahead, and inversely, who loses?:
Most consumers start their travel plans with a search and most buy their travel tickets online. Combine Google’s search dominance with a flight and price database bolted into Google-advertiser “deals” for airline flight prominence, and consumers are likely to be the losers. If Google is able to use its market dominance to drive traffic to its own travel business, that will result in less competition overall. If online travel becomes less competitive, consumers should expect to pay more.
Read the whole thing at the American Consumer Institute on Google’s dominance in the marketplace, and the upcoming decision by the Department of Justice on whether Google will be allowed to acquire ITA.