Google Acquires Airline Data Company ITA: Get Ready for Google Flight Planner

Google announced today that they’ve purchased ITA, a Boston-based company speciailzing in airline data, for $700 million, as rumored a few months back. ITA had been the subject of a hot little bidding war, with Microsoft, Expedia, and Kayak all rumored to be fighting for the company. But Google snagged it. So what does this mean?

In short, it means Google Flight Planner. I don’t know if that’ll be the actual title, but it’s safe to say Google will announce some variation on it in the coming months. Google now has the data to provide search results for all kinds of airline questions, including price comparisons, flight times, availability, and more.

Microsoft, for its part, already has a similar experience built in to Bing, called Travel. Interestingly, some of the data used in Travel comes from ITA, a partnership that Google says will continue, at least for the time being. Here’s a statement from Google on what’s to come:

While online flight search is rapidly evolving, we think there is room for more competition and greater innovation. Google has already come up with new ways to organize hard-to-find information like images, newspaper archives, scholarly papers, books and geographic data. Once we’ve completed our acquisition of ITA, we’ll work on creating new flight search tools that will make it easier for you to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and get you quickly to a site where you can buy your ticket.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).DN