Microsoft Joins Group Against Google Acquisition

Microsoft has watched from the sidelines in the fight over Google's proposed purchase of software that many companies in the travel industry use for finding flights, but now it's come on to the field.

The simmering debate over whether or not search giant Google should be allowed to buy out travel technology developer ITA Software may have finally reached a critical point Monday when an organization of merger opponents,, announced that Microsoft has joined its ranks.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced its plans to acquire ITA Software for approximately $799 million in cash in early July.

At the time, however, analysts said they expect the acquisition to go through significant regulatory review, primarily in the U.S. but also in Europe. was started this fall by several companies concerned that Google could leverage its dominant position in search into profitable subcategories of search such as flight scheduling.

"Google already controls the search results consumers see first. And look what they’ve done with it … Gaining control over ITA Software -- the software that powers most of Google’s competitors in air travel search -- could enable Google to dominate flight search too," a post on the blog said.

So why would Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) join? After all, it long ago sold off its travel subsidiary Expedia.

"Microsoft ... operates the decision engine Bing and uses ITA Software to power its flight search tool," a statement announcing the added membership, said.

Microsoft issued only a brief statement regarding its membership.

"As an ITA Software customer, Microsoft's ability to continue providing innovative ways for consumers to find the best flights at the lowest prices online rests on a competitive market for travel technology. Microsoft is joining to help raise awareness of how the proposed Google-ITA merger could hurt travelers by slowing innovation and contributing to higher travel costs," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to

Although Microsoft confirmed that the company is an ITA customer, however, a spokesperson declined to say whether or not it's used with Bing.

Additionally, besides Microsoft, three more travel sites also joined -- U.K.-based Foundem, Paris-based, and Singapore-based ZUJI.

"The members announced today join existing members Expedia Inc., and its brands, Hotwire and TripAdvisor; Farelogix Inc.; KAYAK, and its brand SideStep; and Sabre Holdings, and its brand Travelocity. Travelocity owns ZUJI," the FairSearch statement said.

A spokesperson for ITA Software declined to comment but Google wasn't as reticent.

"It's disappointing but not surprising that established players are defending the status quo, while we plan to provide consumers with better flight search tools and more choices and drive more traffic to travel websites," a Google spokesperson told in an e-mail.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

Tags: Google, Microsoft, Google Apps, ITA Software, flight

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