When Google tried to buy ITA for roughly $700 million, Microsoft was none too happy. Why? Because ITA, beyond being the primary flight information aggregator and provider, powers the flight data search on the Bing Travel site. Travel is one of the most profitable sections of the web, and it’s also one of the few areas where Bing really has an edge against Google; beyond offering fancier pictures, Bing also has more detailed information and numerous unique features. Well, the deal has gone through, but with enough stipulations that it should be impossible for Google to sabotage Bing’s travel features. That’s a good thing, too, because it seems that Bing has no intention of slowing the release of related extras.
One such extras is the recently created “Bing Wish List,” an application for Facebook. The fact that Bing is now in the arena of building Facebook apps says quite a bit in and of itself; Bing has had a partnership with Facebook both for a level of humancuration on the Bing search engine results pages and in other social search features.
The application isn’t precisely your run-of-the-mill set of gimmicks. It includes the ability to create a wish list, yes, but it also has a strong social element – with friends of the user being able to suggest new locations, add comments, and share their own wish list – and a number of promotional gateways for the Bing site itself. For example, Bing Travel images are displayed for locations, allowing users to view enticing pictures of foreign locales. Users who click on the image will be redirected to the Bing “Places” page for the area, which provides for information. Further, once users want to get going on actual trips, Bing Travel resources are linked in the app, allowing users to quickly go to the flight data, hotel booking, and other nooks of the Bing Travel site.
These new features demonstrate both a strong commitment to search and a working partnership with Facebook, both of which should have Google – if not precisely worried – on their guard.
[via the Bing Blog]