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Google Maps Adds Feature Comparing Ride Hailing Pricing

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Originally published on Gas2.

On Thursday, Google announced it is adding additional ride hailing partners to its Maps feature. Previously, only Uber was included in Maps, but now Lyft and Gett (in New York City) will appear side by side with Uber information. Now ride hailing customers will be able to see quotes from other services and choose the one that costs less.

uber-app-via-freestocks-org-flickrUntil now, Uber has consistently blocked start-ups that offered a similar service.  Last June, a start-up called Urbanhail was begun by a Harvard graduate, who called it “Kayak, but for rides.” The service made use of Uber’s API within the app. Uber permits such a practice, but only if does not violate the company’s terms of use. Those terms specifically require those who use its API to be “a strong, trustworthy partner to Uber.” They also specify that those who use the API cannot compete with or try to drive traffic away from Uber or aggregate Uber with its competitors.

According to UK Business Insider, Chris Messina, Uber’s head of developer experience, contacted Urbanhail and proposed a deal. Follow Uber’s terms of use and Uber would feature Urbanhail, give revenue in exchange for referrals, or grant access to its “Insiders Program” for developers Otherwise, Urbanhail’s access would be revoked.

Urbanhail said “No, thank you” to the deal and access was blocked to Uber’s API. Technically, what Google is doing is different. It is using a direct integration rather than the API, it is not actually a violation of Uber’s terms of use. Why is Google getting a free pass? Probably because it is Google and capable of referring hundreds of millions of potential customers. It’s hard to get testy with someone who can do that for you.

For its part, Lyft is pleased with the new exposure it is getting from being included in Google Maps. “We’re always working to make sure Lyft is where our passengers are — whether that’s in the cities they live or integrated into the apps they use everyday,” Lyft said in a statement. “Working with Google Maps makes it even easier to seamlessly request a ride with Lyft. From our work with Google Maps to Maps in iOS 10, there’s a clear trend — more and more people are clamoring for ride share transportation options.”

Having ready access to a price comparison tool has to be a good thing for ride sharing customers.

Reprinted with permission.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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