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Lighter Side of the Google Acquisition of ITA Software

July 1, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News | 0 comments

For the past several hours I have become the educator in chief for reporters who are struggling to write about Google’s acquisition of ITA today.

Walking them through the acronym soup of ITA, QPX, DACS, GDS and OTA is no small chore – let alone trying to explain what the heck ITA Software actually does to be worth 700 million dollars — as the press tries to make heads or tails of today’s announcement (not that they didn’t have 2 months to prep their stories).

BTW googling “OTA” has the top listing as “Orthopedic Trauma Association” and “Organic Trade Association” – it looks like the folks at the mothership will have to tinker with their relevancy algorithms if they plan on taking over as the world’s largest “online travel agency.”

Not that Google really wants to be an agency per se (one who sells actual tickets) as they note they weren’t interested in that avenue in their press release (which their CEO hedged later during their investor call saying it isn’t “likely.”)

I found the transcript of the investor call fascinating.

Mr. Schmidt (Google’s CEO) states he personally was frustrated with the online air travel shopping experience.

This conjured up a mental image of him slaving over a Nexus One Droid Phone (or maybe even an IPad – on second thought probably not …) hitting the 20+ travel websites that @googletravel say people check before consummating a travel transaction.  Oddly enough the bulk of these 20+ sites have their ticket price quotes powered by the very company he just purchased. (isn’t “Search One and Done” already someone’s tag line …)

I guess the newly minted travel team at Google has some yet undisclosed magical pixie dust they will sprinkle on airlines to stop them from releasing seats at one price at 9am then changing their minds minutes later, while simultaneously halting their practice of changing millions of airfare price points throughout the day and curtailing their headlong leap into obfuscating comparison ticket shopping with a myriad of a la carte options on top of base ticket prices (I’d like a pinch of that dust to dribble on U.S. legislators who want to tax things like bag fees by spinning it as anti-airline and thus consumer friendly).

All needling aside — Google today just changed the air travel landscape in a big way (assuming this transaction clears what could be an interesting antitrust review) — kudos to my friends at ITA for fulfilling the dream, all that hard work has paid off – well done.

After ruminating about the ramifications of this game changing deal for the past couple of months, I still don’t have enough information to formulate exactly how this thing will play out in an ever more socially mobile generation.

I do know one thing – it is going to be a wild ride and I for one am looking forward to it.

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