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Priceline is no slouch when it comes to mobile, but it tapped Kayak as an acquisition target in part because of Kayak's mobile expertise.

Kayak, which launched its first app on the iPhone in March 2009, was one of the first-movers in travel mobile apps. And, more than 26 million downloads later, that’s one of the reasons that Priceline shelled out $1.8 billion to buy the travel metasearch company.

For Kayak, fast forward four-and-half years from its mobile-app debut, and the brand is on Version 26.0.4 of its iPhone app. Kayak also supports apps on the iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7 and more. Support for Blackberry was dropped as RIM teetered.

>> To view how the usability of Kayak’s apps have evolved from 2009 to the present, view the gallery (above). We’ve been tracking how mobile travel apps have transformed the user experience.

 

  

You can look back at Kayak’s 2009 iPhone app with some nostalgia. Logging-in with Facebook, social media, hotel photos, maps, flight-tracking and itinerary management — staples of its 2013 apps — weren’t in the plans.

Some of the airlines, including Continental and Northwest, that were mainstays of the 2009 Kayak app now are deceased brands.

There were also no ads, let alone the current ones in the 2013 app from go-it-alone Southwest or Kayak’s new parent, Priceline.

In addition to new features cited above, as well as visual flight status and airport guides, the 2013 Kayak app is sleeker than the 2009 maiden version, as the iPhone’s physical stature has grown, and the current app is less cluttered than the initial one, with parallels to the redesigned and simplified Kayak website.

The 2009 Kayak iPhone app was, of course, lightly used at first, but Kayak’s mobile apps in the first quarter of 2013 generated 5.5% of the company’s revenue, and will undoubtedly be a larger contributor in years to come.

Take a look (above) at how Kayak’s mobile apps have evolved since their infancy, and just consider what is to come.

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Tags: apps, iphone, kayak

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