WSJ Pours Cold Water on Bloomberg Report of Google Developing Uber Competitor

Rolfe Winkler and Douglas MacMillan, writing for WSJ Digits:

What might have been a budding partnership suddenly appeared to boil over into a pitched rivalry on Monday. Besides Uber’s disclosure that it will work on its own self-driving car technology, a Bloomberg Business report citing a source close to Uber’s board said Google is prepping its own car-hailing service, most likely in conjunction with its self-driving car project. The report said the Uber board had seen screenshots of what appears to be a ride-sharing app being used by Google employees and that the Uber board is considering whether to ask Drummond to leave the board.

But a person familiar with the matter said news that Google is developing an app to rival Uber has been blown out of proportion. The person said a Google engineer has been testing an internal app that helps Google employees carpool to work, and the app isn’t associated with the company’s driverless cars program.

Feels like a non-denial denial to me — but perhaps I’m too cynical regarding Google’s history of backstabbing former partners.

My hunch: Google rolls out driverless cabs as soon as they’re legally able, localized at first in the Bay area. They undercut Uber pricing dramatically, with targeted ads based on your Google profile — and do things like play music you like or show you YouTube videos.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015