Robert_Charlton - 9:11 pm on Sep 15, 2011 (gmt 0)
It will happen.
My point is that it has happened. The examples I cite are from Bing's main menu, and I haven't seen nearly this degree of outrage about Bing's approach. IMO, the Travel results on Bing should have been the starting point for many of the complaints in this discussion. Do a search for the word [hawaii] in Bing and in Google, and tell me what you see.
Google has long shown a booking box when you search both a departure city and a destination city and the word "flights", but only when you get that precise; Google has been more discreet about it than Bing. Maybe Google is aware that it's walking on bigger eggshells and needs to be sneakier about it.
I forget exactly what the Bing homepage was like when it started, but as I remember "Travel" was something like one of four links on the page. Yahoo puts its 'partner' verticals in the left column, apart from the ads. My point is that all the engines (or portals) have them.
There's generally a price markup at every point along the vendor chain, so the smaller guys in any vertical may either get squeezed out or they may have an advantage in price... albeit not in efficiency... assuming there's sufficient inventory available to them. This latter, in my experience, is where the squeeze in flight search has really happened.
Google stopped copying the Bing images, but they kept the interface.
Google hasn't had the art smarts to copy Bing images,.and they weren't even close to the quality of the Bing images when they tried. I've always felt that Bing's art direction is responsible for a significant part of Bing's appeal.
Google is extremely good, though, at organizing information.