Uber has become incredibly successful in a fairly short span of time. That type of success is always sure to draw competition as others want in on it (such as Lyft).
However, you know you are really onto something (as if a valuation of over $40 billion wasn’t enough already) when Google sets their sights on you. The normal Google practice seems to be to either attempt to buy you or just provide competition to break you (or not). In the case of Uber, Google had actually invested in them not that long ago and Uber and Google have quite an operational partnership as well since Uber uses Google Maps as the base for their platform.
Google has been making steps into the driverless car scene for quite sometime and now the stories about this are becoming more public as other companies are stepping into the driverless limelight as well. As for legality, Nevada (back in 2011) has already made such vehicles’ operation on public roads legal so that is at least one place where such cars can be operated (and Las Vegas one city where Uber has constantly had problems breaking into).
While I am not too sure about the driverless aspect right now, I like the thought of Google getting into the app-based car service industry. I am pretty sure Google is looking at this as not just a moneymaking opportunity but as another way to beef up its understanding of people’s activities. Uber came under fire for this very thing last year in tracking customers movements. However, if it is done anonymously and simply used as a data point for advertising (Google’s big money baby) based on people’s activities on the road, I am sure there is a way that Google will make it work for them. But, that would probably translate into even cheaper car service pricing as Google normally does with any market it gets into.
It should be an interesting next couple of years as car manufacturers and companies like Google, Apple, and Sony all are interested in the driverless car. Of course, even Uber is doing the research into that area as well so things could get very interesting and very cheap overtime. Besides, I always love when tech that was written about as fiction decades ago begins to come on our horizon. 🙂
To read more about Google and Uber and what is going on there, check out the story from Bloomberg.