July 1, 2015

The Future of Ridesharing: Uber Breaks Up with Google Maps and Makes Nice with Microsoft

Courtesy of: Express.co.uk

By Lauren C.

Should Google and Uber be considered friends, enemies, or frenemies? That is the question. As Megan argued previously, the relationship between Google and Uber is rocky and passive aggressive, at best. Considering Google’s creation of a ridesharing app for its own self-driving cars, while Uber has been designing self-driving cars of their own, both like to infringe on the other’s turf.

Uber Thinks the Grass is Greener at Microsoft

As a new up-and-coming company, Uber has suffered several public relations setbacks that have taken time to overcome. Since picking up the pieces, Uber is looking to start a brand new name for themselves with some serious changes that affect how the company runs and markets itself. The most recent endeavor includes purchasing Microsoft’s mapping technology in order to distance themselves completely from their reliance on Google Maps.

TechCrunch recently reported that about 100 of Microsoft Bing’s employees will quit their positions to go to Uber, and Microsoft Bing Maps will be the new replacement for Google Maps, which is what Uber is currently using. An Uber spokesman reiterated the benefits of the acquisition, claiming that “mapping is at the heart of what makes Uber great. So we’ll continue to work with partners, as well as invest in our own technology, to build the best experience for riders and drivers.”

So What’s Really Going On?

Uber has much to gain from this acquisition because Bing’s technology helps their company develop its own mapping software. This software, free of Google Maps, could assist in Uber’s other projects, including UberFresh, a food delivery service, and UberPool, which is a carpooling service that was launched in August of 2014.

TechCrunch hypothesized that there is more to the deal than meets the eye, and that Microsoft is selling a large amount of its image collection to Uber, while still maintaining the licensing rights. As journalist Alex Wilhem stated, “If your work involves image collection, and you are hired away, the fact that some of your work would follow isn’t beyond the pale.”

Uber stated that they are “excited about the talent and technology this acquisition brings,” while Microsoft asserted that it has “taken many actions to focus the company’s efforts around our core business strategy.” The equally bland and vague comments that came from both of these spokesmen regarding the acquisition suggest that both companies want the public to think they are doing what’s in their own self-interests. As Wilhelm reiterated, “Uber wants to be clear that it wants to be a full-stack operation, while Microsoft wants you to consider its product focus as a weapon.”

Google and Uber: Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Closer

Should Google Maps be worried? Considering all of Google’s other current endeavors, they probably shouldn’t panic yet. But Google would do well to watch out for the direction that Uber moves in next, considering both entities enjoy stepping on the other’s toes. It will be interesting to see which projects both Uber and Google partake of in the future.

Have you heard about Uber’s snub of Google Maps, and their acquisition with Microsoft? Why do you think Uber made this move? Let us know in the comments!

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