Despite an underwhelming start in most markets, Google is bringing its Flight Search product to India.
The launch was officially announced on the Google India blog. Google Flight Search India has the same functionality as the product in other markets, such as predictive destinations and a map based search.
The booking is made at the airline's web site (or at Goibobo.com, the one Indian OTA which has partnered with Google for the launch.)
One of India's biggest OTAs, Cleartrip, took little time to release its response, wishing Google "all the best" but saying that the product will have "limited success" in India.
Subramanya Sharma, Cleartrip's chief marketing officer, said that customers might not trust the service on offer from a product which does not work with India's dominant and familiar OTAs - itself, MakeMyTrip and yatra.com.
He also noted that a dynamic of the Indian domestic air market is that savvy travellers can often get the best price by booking the outward and return leg with different carriers. Google Flight Search only offers return flights on the same carrier.
And a lot of Indian domestic carriers - such as Air Asia and Air Costa - are not available via Google Flight Search.
Sharma also noted that "from an advertiser standpoint, there are long term cost implications participating in a platform such as this. The cost of acquisition will be far higher in a meta marketing model as compared to a distribution model."
Nonetheless, the launch shows that Google still has faith in its Flight Search plans. With China effectively off-limits, India is the second biggest internet market after the US so it makes sense that Google should give it a go in India. It's been said before, but flights are a long-term play for Google and expectations need to take account of this.
Google defends flight search – it’s hard to do it well and industry doesn’t appreciate us (Oct 14)