Microsoft joined the FairSearch.org coalition to protest Google's $700 million purchase bid for online travel data provider ITA Software.
Microsoft Dec. 13 joined the FairSearch.org coalition, an organization
formed to contest Google's $700 million purchase bid
for online travel data provider ITA Software.
ITA sells flight and airfare data to leading travel companies Hotwire,
TripAdvisor, Kayak and others. These rivals, along with Expedia, Sabre Holding
and others, forged
the FairSearch.org coalition.
Microsoft is also an ITA customer, paying the company for data that powers
its flight search tool on Bing Travel. Clearly, it makes sense that Microsoft
would support FairSearch.org.
"Microsoft is joining FairSearch.org to help raise awareness of how the
proposed Google-ITA merger could hurt travelers by slowing innovation and
contributing to higher travel costs," the company told MarketWatch
FairSearch.org in October asked the Justice Department to block Google's bid
for ITA because it believes it would afford Google too much power over the
online travel sector they toil in. The DOJ issued a second request for
information from Google.
Google already fuels more than 30 percent of all search engine traffic to
online travel sites, according to Experian Hitwise.
If Google were to acquire ITA, the FairSearch.org members argued that Google
could freeze them out of their own markets, or jack up costs to access the ITA
data. These companies also fear Google could prioritize its own travel search
results over links to their own travel info.
"The end result could be higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for
consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search," FairSearch.org
said in a statement.
Google, which said it wants to create tools that will make it easier for
users to search for flights, compare flight options and purchase tickets,
repeatedly said it would honor all existing agreements in the spirit of fair
Other new FairSearch.org members include U.K.-based vertical search engine
Foundem, French travel agency association Level.com and Singapore-based travel
Foundem is embroiled in another battle versus Google. The search engine
joined Microsoft's Ciao and eJustice to complain to the European Commission
that Google prioritizes its own Google Product Search results over their own.
The Commission, which is believed to seek guidance from Microsoft in this
matter, is formally investigating the complaint.
Google is also taking grief
from smaller rivals in local search for pushing
down their results on Google.com and Google Maps in favor of its own Place Page
results for local businesses.