Google said Aug. 27 the Department of Justice filed a second request for information about the search engine's $700 million bid to buy ITA Software, which is used by Bing, Kayak and Orbitz.
The Department of Justice is taking a harder look at Google's $700 million
bid to buy
ITA Software, lodging a second request with the search engine
for more information about the deal.
Google last month agreed to buy the flight information software specialist
to build new flight search tools that will make it easier for users to search
for flights, compare flight options and prices, and shuttle users to a site to
Google has had little to offer in this area to date compared with Microsoft's
Bing, which uses ITA's info for its travel Webpage. Kayak and Orbitz also rely
on ITA for information.
Kayak expressed concern that Google could
shut off its access to the ITA data, something the
search engine pledged not to do.
This concern, combined with Google's increasingly acquisitive nature, was
enough to attract
the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission to discuss who would
scrutinize the bid. The DOJ, which typically covers travel-related agreements,
"While we think this acquisition will benefit travelers as well as
those seeking their business, we know that closer scrutiny has been one
consequence of Google's success, and we said that we wouldn't be surprised if
there were a regulatory review before the deal closes," wrote
Andrew Silverman, a Google senior product manager, Aug. 27.
"This week we received what's called a 'second request,' which means
that the U.S. Department of Justice is asking for more information so that they
can continue to review the deal."
Second requests typically mean the agency is concerned about the impact a
deal will have on an industry and could signal the DOJ's intent to block
Google and travel industry analysts have contended that the travel industry
is plenty competitive enough to allow Google to buy ITA.
Google quoted noted travel guru Arthur Frommer, who said
that "the existence of so many competing
airfare search engines convinces me that the field will remain competitive even
after Google enters it."
Indeed, Expedia offers Best Fare Search, while WorldSpan offers e-pricing
search. Silverman said Google is confident the DOJ will find that online travel
will continue to be competitive if Google buys ITA.