Google Working on Ride-Hailing Service That May Rival Uber, Report Says

February 3, 2015

In an exclusive report by Bloomberg on Monday, Internet giant Google is reportedly working on a ride-hailing service that will rival similar app-based products like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, among others.

According to the report, the ride-hailing service Google is developing is most likely a part of its driverless car project that has been in the pipeline for quite some time now. The publication added that David Drummond, chief legal officer and corporate development senior vice president for Google and an Uber board of directors member, already notified Uber’s board about the possibility of Google launching a similar product.

Bloomberg also mentioned that an unnamed source close to the Uber board said that executives of the app-based transportation company have already seen screenshots of the reported Google ride-sharing app, which is already being used by the employees of the Internet giant. The unnamed source also said that Uber is in the process of deciding whether to let Drummond retain or resign from his position as a member of Uber’s board of directors.

The news can be a big concern for Uber, considering that Google is one of its biggest investors, having pumped in $258 million into the company back in 2013. Beyond the capital it gets from the search engine giant, its ride-hailing app also depends heavily on Google Maps for routing information. As such, if Google will pursue its own ride-hailing service, there is a possibility that Uber will lose all access to sophisticated mapping information that may push it to look at alternatives like Apple Maps and AOL’s MapQuest, which are not as superior as Google’s.

Prior to the news, there have already been signs that the two companies have hit a bumpy road. Last week, Google said it will be displaying information from third-party applications in its Google Now service. The company noted it has already closed deals to draw information from apps like AirBnb, Pandora, Zillow and Uber’s rival, Lyft. Surprisingly, Uber was not included in the list.

The reported ride-hailing service war is not the only issue Uber is facing. The five-year old San Francisco-based tech company has also been in the middle of other controversies, including complaints about driver price cuts, secretive rating system as well as regulators rallying to halt Uber from doing business in their cities.

Whatever the truth is about this issue, both Google and Uber are not yet ready to spill the beans. Google declined to comment on the report and so is Uber.

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