Google's Flight Search: do no evil, but kill everything in your path
What the heck is happening with Google?? They've put banner ads on the main search page even though they promised never to do so. They are supposed to provide us with the best search experience possible, and it looks like they are pretty much looking to kill Expedia and the rest of the travel sites out there. Pretty soon there won't be anyone out there to channel you deals, or price comparisons, or bookings options. Just Google. That's spooky.
You can try Flight Search yourself, which has a convenient tab for Hotel Search so, why I would want to spend anytime going through sites like Hipmunk or Travelocity beats me. It's clean, simple, and unless you like the n00b feel of those other sites, it serves its function real well.
It's hard to not to feel a little tinge of regret for having given Google so much power because, frankly, I really don't want one company being such a fierce sentinel at the gates of the Web. Between Google and Facebook you'd think that there was no other way to break through into the mainstream of online experiences.
And who gets the most love from these guys: the big brands who have the money to get the visibility. No wonder Reddit gets so much traffic. At least its anarchic flow of data and links has some merit in allowing the out of the ordinary and niche to rise to the surface, but even so, it's owned by a brand name company, too so, how long will it last?
Our web experiences are becoming increasingly more controlled. The joy of random search and time wasting on the Web has been replaced by targeting and profiling of your movements across sites.
I know, it's only Flight Search, but this is a continuous modification of services that essentially end up killing the very businesses that Google helped to grow.
You know who else did that? Microsoft. They had Windows and there was an ecosphere of applications and services around it. Slowly, much slower than Google, Microsoft started to integrate applications and services into its OS killing off its satellites of adoration. It was a necessity to justify every Windows upgrade and to improve the user experiences. Why pay for stuff when it was already going to be in the next version of Windows.
Google's doing kind of, exactly, the same thing. It's just taking stuff that people were doing through third parties and sucking it in for itself. Anyone who was arbitrating paid for clicks or impressions is being hurt by Google. Remember price comparison sites like PriceGrabber and Shopzilla? Waste of time now. Pretty soon, that's what's going to happen to the travel sites, too.
Collating data from suppliers and then just comparing the data in search results is not a value added proposition anymore. Airbnb, Uber, OpenTable, and even Spotify come to mind as services that can be easily absorbed by Google's search engine and offered nonchalantly.
If I was a new business trying to break through on the web, I'd be extremely concerned because, I have very few options to raise my visibility and get noticed. And frankly, this all lends credence to the notion that Google is reshaping itself for mobile because, frankly, Google's Flight Search is a damn site easier to access on a mobile device than any app from the other travel sites.
I am not going to want to figure out where to go to find a source of arbitration for these services. If Google does it for me, and all I have to do is input my query once, in one place, and pick up all my data. I am find with that.
Google does no evil, but it does no one any good either. It's just the way it is. They own the pay to get traffic online market hook, line and sinker. Who else can compete at this level?