What do Google’s taxi app plans mean for Uber?

Google is one of Uber’s biggest investors. But it looks as if the tech giant is gearing up to create its own taxi-hailing service, which could have the clout to undermine Uber’s industry lead.

According to a Bloomberg source, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development David Drummond has informed Uber’s board that Google is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, which could end up working in conjunction with its long-in-development driverless car project.

Uber executives have also supposedly seen screen shots of a Google ride-sharing app currently being used by Google employees.

This has endangered Drummond’s place on Uber’s board, the Bloomberg source has said, as the rest of the board are considering asking him to resign his place.

Uber already has a few well-funded competitors, but has managed to keep ahead of the curve despite several well-documented PR disasters. But a threat from Google is nothing to be sniffed at.

Uber’s reliance on Google goes well beyond capital. Uber’s smartphone app is based on Google Maps, meaning that the tech giant already has access to a trove of data about transportation patterns in cities. Alternative mapping apps are widely seen as inferior, so losing access to Google Maps could seriously damage Uber’s chances.

Google has been working on driverless cars for some time, and its entrance into the ride-sharing market would leave Uber without a partner were this dream to finally become a reality.

Google has already ignored the taxi-sharing service when setting up Google Now, which displays useful information prominently on the screen of Android smartphones. The service has struck deals with Pandora, AirBnb, Zillow, and the ride-sharing service Lyft – but not Uber.

At the moment, Google has some way to go to catch up with Uber, and imagining the two companies going to war over self driving cards is fantastical. But Google’s plans have likely shocked Uber into looking at its reliance on the tech giant, and might encourage the company to shore up its weaknesses elsewhere.

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