I don’t write about metasearch engines very often but I think that Google’s proposed purchase of ITA Software is worth commenting on. Here’s some info from Google:

On July 1, 2010, Google announced an agreement to acquire ITA Software, a Cambridge, Massachusetts flight information software company, for $700 million, subject to adjustments.

Google’s acquisition of ITA Software will create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online, which should encourage more users to make their flight purchases online.

The acquisition will benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares and by driving more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites. Google won’t be setting airfare prices and has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers.

Because Google doesn’t currently compete against ITA Software, the deal will not change existing market shares. We are very excited about ITA Software’s QPX business, and we’re looking forward to working with current and future customers. Google will honor all existing agreements, and we’re also enthusiastic about adding new partners.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Travel news site tnooz made an interesting comment on Google’s new “troogle” service:

A user goes to native search in a Google search box, for example, and types the following query:

    Lowest fare to NYC on Sept 12th back on Sept 15th 2 people.

Google may respond with a display that shows a results box and the user selects from the list and, Voila, the user is now deep inside the workflow of the airline’s booking engine.

No messy metasearch, no expensive online travel, no blood curdling GDS control.

The price is guaranteed to be the lowest, so no surprises for the customer who now has a trustworthy result.

Note the emphasis, mine, on “No messy metasearch.” That got my attention. While I’m not a super frequent flyer I fly often enough to be annoyed at how difficult it is to find the best combination of flights with the least total travel time, the fewest hops, the most convenience, and the lowest cost. If troogle can really eliminate this exercise in frustration and drop me “deep inside the workflow of the airline’s booking engine” at the lowest price then they’ll earn my business.

The take-away for me here is that less search can be better. Wasn’t it Roy Tennant who said that only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find? Don’t you think it’ll be the case that when the computer knows exactly what you want, without your needing to provide it with detailed context for every search — i.e. when search becomes ubiquitous and invisible — that that’s when search will travel to new heights?

What do you think?

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 12:24 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or TrackBack URI from your own site.

One Response to "Sometimes less is more"

  1. 1 Jack
    July 13th, 2010 at 12:07 pm  

    Since I always fly Southwest, this is useless for me …

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