Claire Hatton - Google's Industry lead for Travel, Local and Government in AU/NZ - spoke last week at the Asia Pacific Aviation Outlook Summit. In the speech she had a lot to say about mobile and a little to say about the ITA deal.
On the mobile web Hatton's advice was clear - if you do not have a mobile strategy including an app, then get one. She said (and confirmed via twitter) that "mobile searches on some search terms are higher than on PC for Google in Japan and Indonesia.". In some critical Asian markets half of the internet connections are via mobile. She conceded that iPhone was the largest platform but reminded the audience not to forget about Android. Google are claiming that they are "activating 160k android devices a day".
This has translated into consumers engaging in simultaneous consumption of media. True multi-media. Hatton quoted a Nielsen stat that 49% of Australians are online at the same time as they are watching television.
On the ITA deal she was more circumspect. In her defence, the ink is barely dry on the contract. While she would not say what Google intends to do with the product, she was very clear on Google's rationale for making the acquisition.
"because we believe the flight search experience is not good enough"
Understandably she would not be drawn on what the product would look like but did say that it would improve that qualified nature of click throughs to supplier and intermediary sites. Indicating that the likely pressure will be more on other meta search companies rather than OTAs.
As a side note. Later that day an industry insider told me that Google would not be able to bring the ITA functionality to Asia any time soon. They told me that that ITA product does not have the net fare connectivity to be competitive in air search in Asia.