In March, with much hope, Farelogix, the travel tech company and distributor, began an open source experiment and freely made available to anyone the source code for its travel management point-of-sale tool, Hawkeye.
The idea of Project Hawkeye was to take a hammer to parochialism in the travel industry, with developers downloading the code, building apps and sharing the results so the industry would benefit and embrace a culture of innovation.
Of course, Farelogix would position itself as a neutral arbiter and thereby reap some benefits and goodwill, too.
But, as TripIt co-founder and President Gregg Brockway described it at a Farelogix event in Miami Dec. 9, the usual travel industry "trench warfare" reared its ugly head instead, and Hawkeye didn't meet expectations.
Brockway contrasted Hawkeye's results with more collaborative ways of doing things in Silicon Valley, although I'm sure there are plenty of daggers in use there, too.
Farelogix President and CEO Jim Davidson says to date there have been around 700 downloads of the Hawkeye code, but few recipients "have come back for much." Farelogix's competitors -- including all of the GDSs -- took the code and ran.
"We know some are using it," Davidson says.
The failure of Hawkeye means travel distribution, to some extent, remains mired in complexity with a panolopy of disparate and antiquated solutions at the point of sale.
What mistakes did Farelogix made with Project Hawkeye?
Davidson doesn't use the word "naivete," but concedes that Farelogix underestimated the "community spirit" in the travel technology industry.
Whereas Mozilla successfully enticed developers to write code for its browser, travel distribution apparently remains too much of a cutthroat arena to tolerate such cooperation for the greater good.
Davidson says, Hawkeye remains available for downloading, and the code gets updated periodically.
He adds that it could take two or three years before Hawkeye takes off.
And, I'm thinking that it's equally likely that we'll have a fantastic, worldwide climate-change agreement in two or three years, or perhaps hate-talk radio will have transitioned by then into a love fest.
[Disclosure: This reporting was gathered on a press trip, with lodging and air paid by Farelogix.]