On Monday, Uber announced its acquisition of Microsoft’s Bing mapping technology that includes 100 of the company’s employees, allowing the ride sharing company to have mapping technology of its own. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
After Uber’s interest in Nokia’s Here Maps, Bing is second mapping technology that has attracted the company and shows its interest and effort to build its own mapping service. The recent hiring of Brian McClendon, a longtime Google executive and important person in the creation of Google Maps, points to the same. With the new mapping technology, Uber wants to take more control on its business and depend less on its sometimes partner and investor, Google.
Microsoft’s mapping service may not be anything close to Google Map. But the data of Microsoft could be improved with the Uber’s organic advantage of running a business with hundreds of thousands of cars running around the world every day. Uber already has the potential to track location of drivers and passengers and has the ability to predict the demand and supply for travel from one place to another using the algorithms. It would not turn out to be a surprise if Microsoft’s camera which is part of Bing took a place on the roof of the Uber’s cabs.
Microsoft on Uber’s acquisition said, “Over the past year, we have taken many actions to focus the company’s efforts around our core business strategy. In keeping with these efforts, we will no longer collect mapping imagery ourselves, and instead will continue to partner with premium content and imagery providers for underlying data while concentrating our resources on the core user experience. With this decision, we will transfer many of our imagery acquisition operations to Uber.”
Ever-rising Uber, which is giving tough time to the established taxi-services worldwide, already uses a combination of map services from Google, Apple and China’s Baidu and the reports suggest it will continue with the same. Though Google would no longer be collecting mapping imagery by itself, it will continue working with the imagery providers for underlying data on its own maps. It is said Microsoft already gets most of its map data from Finland’s Nokia.
Though clear details and terms of the acquisition is not revealed, it is somewhat clear that Uber want to be a full-stack operation, while Microsoft wants to consider its product focus as a weapon. It would take some time to understand if the companies have achieved what they wanted to do. For now, Uber has new tools and option to uses and Microsoft is slightly free in the financial sense by freeing Bing.