Search consultancy Greenlight has just distributed a comment on Google's purchase of ITA Software. Here's an edited down version:
In its early years the internet was heralded as the great disintermediator, allowing manufacturers and suppliers to have direct interaction with their customer bases.
This was Phase One. It was rapid. There was a dramatic increase in market transparency that allowed people to see prices and products from multiple suppliers, allowing them to compare prices and buy direct.
As the internet grew, that market transparency began to diminish. With thousands of sites selling a product/service, how could someone determine whether they were getting the best price?
This ushered in Phase Two. New companies such as Travelsupermarket and Kayak re-established market transparency with innovative technologies, aggregating data and essentially reintermediating the supply chain.
But if the likes of Travelsupermarket have good technologies, the likes of Google have incredible ones, allowing them to usher in what appears to be Phase Three. Its reach and resources make Google the ultimate informational intermediary, essentially reintermediating an already reintermediated supply chain.
All Phase 2 intermediaries should now be rethinking their business models in light of this move, and at the very least determining how they should operate in the next few years.