While Google finds itself haggling with the Justice Department over ITA Software, Microsoft Bing added an autosuggest capability for flight prices based on ITA data.
Microsoft's Bing search engine upgraded its Travel Price Predictors feature
with an autosuggest capability for airline travel fares, a capability Google
might love to offer if it succeeds in acquiring ITA Software.
--which sifts through more than a billion airfares a day to surface
cheap airline tickets for traveling searchers--has added
"Autosuggest Flight Prices."
This feature displays flight prices, including Bing's prediction
of the best flight price over the next 90 days,
directly in the search box without the user having to hit the enter button. The
idea, as it is for any autosuggest feature, is to save the consumer an extra step
in the sometimes frustrating search process.
The Autosuggest Flight Prices tool also recognizes where users are and
instantaneously displays the Price Predictor based on their location.
Google has mastered autosuggest capabilities for its search engine, even
upping the search ante versus Bing by offering
Google Instant predictive search technology last
Bing's Travel update, then, might seem like a thorn in Google's side. Bing's
Travel Price Predictors tool relies on airfare schedules and pricing collected
from airlines by ITA Software.
It's ITA that Google is trying to buy for $700 million, but the Justice
Department is severely scrutinizing the deal because it believes it would
potentially give Google too much control over the online travel market.
Google and the DOJ are trying to hash out an agreement
, which could include compulsory licensing
that prohibits Google from shutting off
access to the ITA firehose to online travel
companies, such as Expedia and Kayak.
If the two fail to reach an understanding, which could come any day now amid
ongoing talks, the DOJ would sue Google to block the deal.
Whatever the case, Bing Travel currently offers the sort of travel search
service Google would love to offer by acquiring ITA.
And while Google is stuck wrangling with the DOJ, Bing Travel just got
better by adding autosuggest flight prices.
It might not translate to a lot in search market share (Google has 65.6
percent; Bing has 12 percent), but it's a positive step for Bing against the
market leader, which finds its efforts to expand its domain hampered by