Earlier this month Uber acquired Otto to step up its game in automation technology and open up opportunities in freight movement and other transportation avenues. Now, Google is taking on Uber by extending its Waze carpool service to San Francisco Waze-users.
Waze carpool works by connecting “riders with drivers who are already headed in the same direction”. The connection is based on their “home and work addresses” and makes it easy for the riders to connect with fellow neighbours and colleagues you might have seen around but not have had actual conversations with. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Waze’s current pilot program charges riders at most 54 cents a mile—less than most Uber and Lyft rides—and, for now, Google doesn’t take a fee”.
When Google bought Waze for a reported $1 billion in 2013, a lot of people were scratching their heads in confusion. Google already had Google Maps that provided a number of navigation options for users with live traffic conditions. So why did they need another navigation app?
Well with Google always having one eye on the future, it was Waze’s social networking offerings that Google really saw potential in. Waze allows drivers to message other “Wazers” on the road. It is also known to be better than Google Maps at re-routing drivers to avoid traffic jams.
How successful is it likely to be? Uber has already been operating since 2009 and has a breadth of experience behind it. Waze will have to build up good reviews for its service and whether the income generated will be appealing enough for the drivers to continue the car-pooling service remains to be seen. But if Waze continues to make its algorithms more sophisticated, shortening the gap between pick-up times so that it’s no hassle at all – it could be a great contender.