Finally, we see Google’s response to ride-sharing services like Uber, and it’s not a black car service launching in San Francisco or New York City.
Instead, the tech giant has turned to Waze, an Israeli startup it acquired in 2013 for more than $1 billion, and will launch a pilot for a carpooling service in Tel Aviv, Ra’anana, and Herzliya according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Dubbed “RideWith,” the service will be focused on work commuters. It will link up users making similar trips to and from work — only — and let the passenger pay the driver for the ride through the app and will suggest a price it deems fair.
In short, the service will work very similarly to UberPool and Lyft Line, the companies’ carpooling services that match riders with similar origins and destinations. It’s also similar to Europe’s BlaBlaCar, a service for longer distance carpooling, which recently acquired one of its biggest competitors, Carpooling.com. But while BlaBlaCar is focused on longer trips, it wouldn’t be hard for it help commuters from suburbs and have longer commutes.
Though it was rumored for a while that Google (GOOG) was working on an Uber competitor (remember, Google’s venture arm is an investor in Uber), this Waze-based service makes a lot more than sense than starting an Uber competitor from scratch in, say, San Francisco. Waze, a hugely popular driving navigation app whose users contribute data like road accidents, already has not only a large user base, but also a wealth of road and mapping data thanks to years of contributions from its users.