Not really a surprise, but noteworthy nonetheless: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is joining a growing coalition of companies that are publicly opposing Google’s proposed $750 million purchase of ITA Software. The coalition, which already included TripAdvisor, Travelocity, Kayak, Hotwire, and Expedia, wants the Justice Department to challenge the deal, saying it would limit competition in the market.
Microsoft has lobbied the Justice Department to investigate Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in the past; in August 2009, for instance, it joined Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) in urging the Justice Department to oppose Google’s book settlement under the grounds that it was anti-competitive.
Microsoft relies on ITA Software, which provides back-end search and booking technology to airlines and travel search engines, in part to power Bing Travel, a cornerstone of its search engine.
Google has promised to honor all of ITA’s “existing agreements” but the arrangement would certainly be awkward and there’s a broader concern among competitors that Google could potentially use its dominance of the overall search market to push a travel offering of its own.
The Justice Department said this summer that it wanted additional information about Google’s acquisition before giving the deal its OK. Google has said the scrutiny was always expected and that it’s “confident” that the deal will pass regulatory muster. As for the Microsoft critique, a spokesman said, “Microsoft is our largest competitor and lobbies regulators against every acquisition we make.”