In 2013, Google purchased a crowd-sourced navigation data startup called Waze for $1.3 billion. At the time, many speculated about Google’s reasons behind the purchase, unsure whether the search giant had bought the app for it’s data, to offer users a social alternative to Google Maps, or just to keep it from competitors. It’s continued to be unclear what Google planned to do with the app – until recently, when The Wall Street Journal reported Google’s new move toward ride-sharing.
Ride-sharing seems to be the ultimate goal of companies like Lyft and Uber, which started as ride-hailing services that positioned themselves as alternatives to taxis. Their biggest competitive advantage over traditional taxis were their prices – a typical Uber or Lyft ride costs less than taking a taxi. However, both companies have quickly realized that in trying to balance keeping costs low for customers and offering competitive pay for drivers, their pricing structures were ultimately not sustainable. Around the same time, the companies realized that if you “Pay the driver the same mile-and-minute rate, but possibly collect two or more fares per ride. Those fares can drop up to 50% without hurting the company’s net revenue and can make [the] driver pool up to twice as efficient.”
Meanwhile, Google has approached pricing from a different angle to create it’s alternative offering through Waze Carpool which is, “more of a matchmaking service, which brings together riders with drivers headed in the same direction.” According to TechCrunch, “Fees are going to be low, too — [the Wall Street Journal report] says Google is intentionally keeping them low to keep this a peer-to-peer co-driving arrangement.” So, while Uber and Lyft pay dedicated drivers to drive users around, Waze Carpool will be leveraging drivers who are already on the road.
The current iteration of the Waze Carpool service is being tested in the San Francisco Bay area but Google plans to open up access to all users of the Waze app. For users in areas where Uber and Lyft are not currently offered, the service could be a boon to those seeking low cost rides.
Are you an event professional who’s used any of these carpool services? Comment below to share your experience.
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