DOJ Discusses ITA Bid with Vayant
Were Google to get ITA, Christov believes Google would do to travel data what it did to maps with Google Maps, opening the data API and making the travel data available to others. "Google could make the data available to other companies trying to innovate in the space," Christov said. "There will be more competition and more new entrants to the space, which is what we haven't seen in the last five to 10 years because it's hard and expensive to get."For example, he said the regulator asked him what was the frequency of fare updates Vayant offers users, and whether that frequency should be increased or not. This showed the DOJ had done its homework, he said. "I was extremely impressed with the DOJ's level of understanding of the industry," Christov said. "It's not an easy sector to dissect." This attention to detail stands in stark contrast to the approach the Federal Trade Commission took in asking experts in the mobile display advertising industry whether Google's acquisition of AdMob would impinge the market. Several people interviewed by the FTC questioned the regulator's knowledge and competency to make a sound decision in the space. Second requests for info to determine if a potential acquisition is anti-competitive tend to stand out as ominous signs for the acquirer, but Christov didn't get that impression from his two-and-a-half-hour talk with the DOJ. "Even if a second request sounds like a serious matter in other instances, here it might just be a fact-gathering thing," Christov said. Google, which is trying to get a dog in the flight information race to combat Bing and others, hopes this proves true.
Christov seemed confident the DOJ will pass the bid, partly because of his input and partly because the DOJ asked him very specific questions about how the flight information software industry works.