FairSearch Member Kayak: Google Travel Search Has Had “No Impact On Our Business”

In the roughly two years since Google launched flight search and hotel search, Kayak CEO Steve Hafner says, “We haven’t seen any impact on our business.” This statement, made in a CNBC interview, would appear to directly contradict the central claim of the lobbying group to which Kayak belongs, FairSearch.org.

The central claim is that there’s “growing evidence that Google is abusing its search monopoly to thwart competition.” FairSearch says that Google’s ability to “send traffic to its own [vertical] properties,” such as flight search or hotel search, gives the company an unfair advantage. Accordingly FairSearch has been lobbying regulators to bring antitrust cases against Google to “protect competition, transparency and innovation in online search.”

If the argument is persuasive in the abstract it doesn’t seem to have come to pass in Kayak’s case. By its own account Kayak is prospering.

Beyond this the conservative blog The Daily Caller offered an assessment of the health of an array of companies that have formally lined up against Google. Some of the companies featured are members of the FairSearch coalition while others testified against Google during Congressional antitrust hearings, a year ago to the day. You don’t have to read it; the title of the article conveys its substance: Google’s ‘victims’ thriving, despite telling regulators otherwise.

In particular, the rise of the mobile internet has taken considerable pressure off the companies’ SEO efforts. Indeed, in mobile, conventional web search has been partly displaced by direct navigation through apps. For example, TripAdvisor, another FairSearch member, was recently crowned the top mobile travel app/site according to comScore.

Source: comScore (September, 2012)

Expedia, the number two mobile travel destination after TripAdvisor in the chart above, is also a member of FairSearch.org. Though not on the above chart, Google Maps is the top local and travel app according to comScore rival Nielsen.

The Daller Caller article also points out how Yelp has prospered through the rise of the mobile internet. Yelp’s stock price is doing fine and the company has recently reported advertiser and usage growth (especially in mobile) despite Google’s new Google+ Local and Zagat integration initiatives.

Not all of the companies above can boast that they’re doing well however. Nokia, for example, continues to lose smartphone market share. But that’s the result of the growth and popularity of other smartphone operating systems (i.e., Android, iOS) rather than anticompetitive manipulation of the traditional search market by Google.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Android | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Legal: Regulation | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • ScottyMack

    Pretty eye-opening and not shocking in the least. This has nothing to do with fairness or monopolies and is all about lawyers trying to create lawsuits out of thin air in the hopes of getting their 30% chunk of the settlements Google almost always pays. The thing that scares me most, is that the people in Washington are just stupid enough to actually listen to these lobbyists.

    So Kayak/Fairsearch … who’s stopping you from building your own search engine? Oh, I see … it’s not fair because that would take a considerable investment of your time, money and talent and you feel you would never be competent enough to compete with Google. It’s only fair that they should “share the wealth,” so to speak, by leaving your market alone. If you can’t beat ‘em, sue ‘em! Meanwhile, Google creates new ways to collect fees from website owners to help pay for all of these frivolous lawsuits.

    What the heck is wrong with this country these days?

  • http://twitter.com/Qazynga Qazynga.com

    great products, helpfull tips, thaks for info!

  • Alan

    Google never steals ideas? Always innovating? Like igoogle? beat yahoo’s version into oblivion and then once they own the niche dump it because it isn’t making you as much money as your other products, leaving millions of users in the learch. You are right what the heck is wrong with this country?

  • http://www.michaelmerritt.org/ Michael Merritt

    For whatever it’s worth, when I think airplanes, I think Southwest. When I think trains, I think Amtrak or Metro North. When I think hotels, I think hotels.com or TripAdvisor.

  • Pierre Gardin

    Microsoft Works users were also millions. Just like gramophone users.

    I hope you still can find Ford T parts on craigslist.

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