FairSearch.org: Google's "Facts" on ITA Deal are Fiction
In an interview with Tnooz’s Dennis Schaal, FairSearch.org took on Google for its repeated attempts to distract the public from the facts about its proposed acquisition of ITA Software. Among the issues discussed:
- While Google has repeatedly promised to “honor all of ITA’s existing agreements” (legally binding contracts, in fact), KAYAK Chief Marketing Officer Robert Birge disclosed that KAYAK repeatedly has been rebuffed in its efforts to obtain assurances that Google would not decline to renew ITA licenses, would not withhold ITA upgrades that have been routinely made available in the past, and would not misuse its access to proprietary KAYAK information. Expedia counsel Tom Barnett, former Assistant Attorney General in the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, noted that by refusing to give such assurances, Google is, in effect, is saying it “reserves the right to limit, undermine or cut off” competitors’ access to ITA’s products in the future.
- Google’s July 1 blog post announcing the proposed deal, which Birge argued was “extremely misleading” because three of the companies cited as ITA competitors, including Expedia, don’t currently have an airfare shopping and pricing product available on the market.
- The impact on consumers: Because Google is already the dominant online advertising player and a leading distribution channel, higher advertising costs in online travel once Google controls ITA would likely get passed along to consumers.
Barnett stated that what will be important to the DOJ are the facts — namely that the majority of the online travel world uses ITA for flight search, that online travel companies are dependent on ITA, and that the deal would give Google leverage over its online travel competition.
More facts about how Google-ITA threatens competition and consumers can be found here.