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NYT Editorial: Google-ITA Deal "Raises A Real Concern"

In an editorial this morning, entitled “Google’s Next Deal,” the New York Times considers whether the Justice Department should approve Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software.

Echoing concerns raised by the Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein last week, the Times says Google must not “abuse its dominance in search to shut out the competition,” and rightly asks: “What would happen to the $80 billion-a-year online travel business if Google’s rivals were relegated to the nether reaches of its search results and it came to dominate the search for online tickets, too?”

The paper importantly notes: “Regulation is not about protecting every one of Google’s rivals. What matters is that the market remain reasonably competitive.”

And the Times points out FairSearch.org’s concern this deal could lead to higher prices for travel consumers:

“Regulators must consider that if Google extends its dominance to the business of steering online customers to airlines and travel agencies, it would be in a position to charge more for this service. Without strong competitors to keep it in check, it might offer preferential placement to some airlines or agencies for a fee, or not list offers from companies that didn’t pay up. This could lead to higher costs for agencies, airlines and passengers.”

Read the full piece here.