**Currently tech-trekking with my fellow Kellogg MBA’s through Seattle, Bay Area, Silicon Valley for the following week, posts will reflect our awesome schedule!**
Monday: Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon
Tuesday: Salesforce, Twilio, Linkedin
Wednesday: Intuit, Facebook, VMware
Thursday: Google, Medallia, Adobe
Friday: Apple, Cisco, PayPal
You won’t be able to have a fully autonomous car of your own for at least a few more years, but the race to develop the best technology is already tearing up the asphalt. Google is reportedly interested in spinning off its self-driving unit as its own self-driving company under the umbrella of Alphabet. And that means it will need to generate revenue, which could mean ride-hailing. And ride-hailing, of course, means Uber.
Tell me more!
Can Google successfully challenge Uber, or is Travis Kalanick’s company simply too large and too entrenched to unseat? Does Google even want to beat Uber? Or is it simply looking for a way to make self-driving cars generate cash? And with neither committing to actually manufacturing their own vehicles, which carmakers will each be partnering with to bring its technology to the road?
According to Bloomberg Business, Google plans to start small by deploying its multi-sized autonomous fleet in confined areas like college campuses, military bases, and corporate office parks. This is smart, because it would likely help Google get additional miles under its belt before rolling out its self-driving cars onto city streets.
Those streets fall squarely in Uber’s turf — hard-won turf.
But while Uber is dominating the ride-hailing business, Google has the advantage in autonomous car research. It has been developing the technology since 2009 and has the advantage, Uber recognizes that, which may explain why the company is so aggressively pursuing Google’s engineers and executives. High-definition maps are key to a successful self-driving car project; Uber is building up its mapping division in parallel to its self-driving unit.
Experts believe ride-hailing to be the most obvious application of fully autonomous vehicles. And surveys suggest that consumers are excited about the technology, but also concerned about safety, security, and, of course, how much it will cost them. Licensing and regulation are also serious hurdles, and Uber — its wall decorated with the scalps of politicians who dared to oppose it — has an advantage over Google in that regard.
The question, then, may be whether Alphabet needs to get into the ride-hailing business itself — a daunting task, even without the specter of Uber — or whether it makes money in the long term through partnerships and the licensing of its technology.
My 2 cents:
With neither company being perfectly suited for car manufacturing in the long term, the likelihood of outsourcing this component increases which would mean that the self-driving car hailing battle is less about hardware and more about software and litigation. Uber as an irreplacable convenience and Google’s lack of litigation expertise thus far will both be put to the test as the self-driving car hits the streets for good.