Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The O'Hare Airport of the Computer World

There are few air travel hubs in the world as well-traversed as Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The third busiest airport in the world, O'Hare served some 64,397,782 passengers in 2009.

This week Google announced its plans to establish itself as an online travel hub of a similar caliber. The Internet giant intends to take advantage of its position as the leading online search engine and merge with the top airline fare tracker on the Web, ITA software.

Google claims that acquiring ITA for some 700 million dollars will enable the company to provide lower prices for air fares and make the process of shopping for tickets online more convenient. As good as it sounds, not everyone is excited about the possibility of Google taking over the online travel industry.

Existing travel sites like Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity are worried, very worried about their ability to compete and that could lead to higher fares. Critics of the proposal, including Thomas Barnett, an attorney hired by Expedia fear the plan will allow Google to put its own travel recommendations at the top of search results, putting competitors at a disadvantage.

Whether or not the proposed merger actually takes place is largely down to the U.S. Justice Department. The agency is expected to make a ruling in the coming days and weeks as to whether or not to allow Google to acquire ITA.

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