Some days ago the interest of Google on developing its own on-demand ride service became public. According to this information, Google is developing this service in connection with the well-known research on self-driving cars, envisioning scenarios in which autonomous vehicles are patrolling neighborhoods to pick up and drop off passengers.
It is no secret that Google has ambitions on revolutionizing the transportation sector with autonomous vehicles, with its CEO Larry Page specially fascinated on boosting the development of future cities and more efficient transportation systems. But developing its own on-demand ride service collides directly with Uber, a company that until now seemed to be setting a good partnership with Google. However the most interesting part of the story is that Google Ventures, the capital arm of the company, was one of the main investors on Uber back in August 2013. Google investment on Uber is around 258 million dollars and one Google has one executive seating on Uber´s board. After that movement it was likely to predict that the two companies would be teaming up closely in the future.
David Drummond is representing Google in the board and he informed the company about the possibility of Google developing services that may collide with Uber interests. In that sense, now the board is considering the requesting Drummond to resign from his position in Uber due to conflict of interest.
In parallel with this new, Uber has reach an agreement with Carnegie Mellon University to research on the development of its own autonomous vehicle technology. Looks like both companies are heading in the exactly same direction, on-demand ride services using driverless cars, and the clash and ferocious competition seems inevitable.
Bloomberg´s discussion on “Google moving from Uber backer to competitor”
Google´s competition may be only the last obstacle that Uber is facing during the last months, after facing a number of controversies in its deployment around Europe. Fights with national regulator, including banning of the service in some countries (Spain, Belgium, etc..), dealing with taxi drivers protests in almost every country they enter and accusations of unfair competition behaviour against its main current competitor Lyft have been major headaches for the company in the last months. Competition with Google can be the ultimate challenge that Uber needs to face, however not everything is bad news and the company still enjoys a valuation 41 billion dollars and continues its development around the globe.
In addition to the aforementioned, Uber is highly dependent on Google Maps service and changing maps provider would not be an easy process, considering that the services like Apple Maps or AOL’s MapQuest are seen as inferior services.
Within the car industry we can also see a number of market leader car manufacturers boosting the development of driverless cars, companies like Audi, Mercedes and some rumors algo pointed the possibility of Apple designing its own car. Many changes are about to happen in the private mobility sector and we will keep an eye on its exciting evolution with some big players from the tech industry.
Written by: @oalvarea