Transportation

Google will pull its QPX Express API in April 2018, cutting off its airfare feed

Comment

Image Credits: ipopba/iStock

As Google gradually builds out its footprint in travel search, the company is also making a move to shut down one of its data feeds to others in the travel space.

The company has quietly announced that in April of next year, it will shut down its QPX Express API, an airfare search feed that launched out of Google’s $700 million acquisition of ITA in 2010/2011. (For a blast from the past, read the original announcement of that deal from then-Google search VP Marissa Mayer.)

Google revealed its plans to close the service in an update to the frequently asked questions about the API. It also sent a note to API users (published on HackerNews). The final shut down will take place on April 10, 2018. Between now and then, it will not take on new users, and existing users will get a reduced rate on any API calls. The usage fee will now be $0.02 per query, down from $0.035, after the first 50 queries, which are free.

Google has confirmed the closure to us in an emailed statement, citing low usage.

“We decided to no longer support the QPX Express API given the low interest among our travel partners. Instead, we’ll focus on our other enterprise solutions for partners and users,” said a Google spokesperson.

A version aimed at larger businesses, QPX Enterprise, will continue to operate, a Google spokesperson confirmed. QPX Enterprise generates the vast majority of revenues in the travel data business, from what I understand.

Google is also shutting down at least one other flight-related service as well. OnTheFly, ITA’s mobile flight-search app, will stop to work after December 2017, Google said, suggesting that users instead either use Google Flights or Matrix, ITA’s legacy flight search page that still seems to be going.

For those who are affected by the news, Google isn’t providing suggestions of alternatives, but some of the other services that provide API access include Fareportal, Skyscanner, Skypicker, and as one developer notes, IATA appears to also be building something, in addition to the QPX Enterprise service.

The QPX Express API closure should not come as a surprise for a few reasons. For one, it’s not unusual for Google (and others) to shut down services, and APIs that third-party developers depend on are certainly not spared in Google’s regular spring cleaning exercises.

It’s not clear is how many active users this particular API has currently, or what revenues Google made from the deal, or the reason for the decision. (We’ve contacted Google with questions and will update as and when we hear more.)

One guesstimate from back in 2011 was that the whole ITA business had annual revenues of between $200 million and $250 million, more than Kayak at the time.

Customers of QPX have included a lot of household names, who would have used the search service and connected it with a separate purchasing platform. Bing TravelCape AirCheapTicketsKayak.comOrbitz, AlitaliaAmericanANAUnited AirlinesUS Airways, and Virgin Atlantic have all been named as customers. 

A lack of use — often one of the rationales for pulling a service — might have been only one reason for the QPX API closure, in any case. As part of its regulatory clearance to buy ITA, Google was required to provide third-party access to the software and data for at least five years from the time that the deal closed. That happened on April 12, 2011, so we’re past the final boarding call, so to speak. The QPX Express was launched three years after the deal was announced, in 2013 in an effort to build more long-tail business with a wider group of potential users.

Competitors were okay with Google’s ITA acquisition when it was announced, in part because they seemed to think that Google would be subject to closer regulatory scrutiny as a result. (We’ve reached out to Fairsearch, one of the more vocal groups opposing Google in vertical search, to get a reaction to this latest news and will update this story as and when we hear back.)

At the time, Google noted that it didn’t compete against ITA users, so it, too, wanted to keep working with them:

“Because Google doesn’t currently compete against ITA Software, the deal will not change existing market shares,” the company noted in a statement at the time. “We are very excited about ITA Software’s QPX business, and we’re looking forward to working with current and future customers. Google will honor all existing agreements, and we’re also enthusiastic about adding new partners.”

More generally, Google appears to be focused these days less on travel tools for developers and more on travel tools for consumers, and perhaps related to that how it can grow its audience to build out ad products around it.

In one of its latest moves, Google ran a test this summer to see if it could take on Airbnb with a vacation rental booking service, aggregating listings from other sites like Booking.com.

Updated throughout with Google comment, and more clarification and detail about the QPX service.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

20 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

21 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android