Google-owned Waze is a compelling navigation app, but whether Google can turn it into the foundation for a winning ride-share service will have to be tested in the marketplace over the next few months and years. Google is a latecomer to the field, although the sector is likely to undergo more disruption and a revolution in years to come.
Google plans to leverage its navigation app, Waze, which it acquired in 2013 for $1.1 billion, to pilot a ride-sharing service in San Francisco beginning in the Fall.
The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, states that the Google service would not be a clone of Uber or Lyft, or China’s Didi Chuxing, for that matter, but instead would use the community-based Waze to match drivers and passengers traveling toward the same destination.
The launch would be built on the foundation of a San Francisco-area pilot that Google launched several months ago for employees of local corporations. Currently the drivers earn around 54 cents per mile, the Wall Street Journal states. This encourages drivers to earn a bit of extra money while transporting passengers going in their direction but the compensation wouldn’t be enough to encourage drivers to do this full-time.
Google — which is also testing driverless cars, a field that Uber is interested in as well — currently doesn’t get any compensation from the ride-sharing program, although business models are likely to change if the program ever scales up.
Uber, especially, and Lyft don’t have to be especially fearful about Google testing the ride-sharing arena at the moment — but might become more wary if Google gets any traction, puts serious money into it, and heads in the same direction as other ride-sharing competitors.
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Photo credit: Google is testing the waters of ride-sharing in San Francisco using its Waze app. Pictured is a driverless car, currently a separate Google effort, on display at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California on September 25, 2012. Gary Reyes / San Jose Mercury News/MCT