Maybe Microsoft thinks the U.S. Department of Justice is about to green-light Google's acquisition of travel software market leader ITA Software and figures it should bulk up. (Also see: Google, Justice Department in talks over ITA deal) Other than that general purpose, I'm not quite sure what to make of the company's announced partnership between its Bing Travel search service and KAYAK, an independent travel search site. They clearly compete with each other, so it's hard to tell what a deal offers each party. From the Bing announcement: Today, we’re excited to welcome a new technology partner, KAYAK. Teaming up with KAYAK, a leading innovator in travel search, allows us to provide a more comprehensive travel search experience. In the coming weeks KAYAK will provide flight search results in the U.S. from multiple cities, airports and airlines, giving customers access to a larger set of flight itineraries as they work to plan and book travel on Bing. For Bing, this means we can focus our development resources on delivering even more unique and valuable features for customers. In essence, this lets us do more for our customers as we continue to invest in next-generation travel experiences. So what does this mean for customers? It means Bing Travel is getting more powerful and comprehensive when it comes to helping customers plan and book travel. When combined with Bing’s own tools and technologies such as Price Predictor, rate indicator, flexible search tools and Flight Answers, we are really doubling down on giving customers the tools to make faster, more informed travel decisions. That's all pretty mushy, so we'll have to wait and see what it really means. But the announcement is a good reminder that we should expect a decision from the Justice Department any day now regarding Google's proposed $700 million purchase of ITA Software. A group of online travel players have formed a group called FairSearch.org to lobby the feds to challenge the ITA deal on antitrust grounds, and the longer the issue drags on -- Google announced the acquisition last July 1 -- the more it appears the effort is paying off.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.