Uber, the global taxi service that has recently been outlawed in France, is continuing with its plans to take over the world. Well, maps of the world that is.
The company has confirmed that it has agreed to acquire part of Microsoft's Bing Maps arm, with a data centre, relevant cameras, intellectual properties, mapping technologies and around 100 engineers all shifting to Uber as part of the deal.
It is also rumoured that Uber is still looking to buy Here Maps from Nokia, with an alleged $3 billion (£1.9 billion) bid still allegedly on the table.
Uber wants to build its own mapping service and has even hired a Google executive who helped create Google Maps in order to make that dream a reality. The taxi company might just be seven years old, but it wants to be more than a ride-hailing app, and as part of that journey, it has to take back some control from Google.
Google Ventures is an investor in Uber, and Google Maps are directly integrated into Uber. So, Uber is basically tied to Google. But by acquiring Microsoft's mapping team, data centre, cameras and patents, it will finally have the opportunity to begin building a Google Maps-like competitor and therefore be less reliant on Google Ventures, Google Maps, and Google in general.
Both the Microsoft tech acquisition and the Here Maps bid would give Uber complete autonomy over the navigation systems and maps its drivers and customers use on a daily basis.
While Uber does what it needs to do, Microsoft is tightening its focus. The company has a clear business strategy in place with a new CEO on board, and that strategy seems to no longer include collecting map imagery. Microsoft plans, however, to continue offering Bing Maps via data licensed from partners. It already gets a lot of map data from Nokia, for instance. Although, as we know, that too could end up in the hands of Uber.
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