When trying to figure out how to get somewhere, the odds are pretty good. First step opens Google Maps. But Uber and Lyft will each change it. For them I say: good luck.
Read through the Uber and Lyfts respective filing documents with the SEC before they become public and you will notice that they have great ambitions to dominate the way people move. In short, they want you to use their app and just their app to find out how to get from A to B, no matter what mode of transport you use.
Both companies have taken significant steps towards this goal. For one, they have bought and / or launched bike and scooter programs in different cities around the world, including Lyft's acquisition of Motivate, the largest cycling party in the country running New York's Citibike and San Francisco's GoBike .
But both companies have also begun to incorporate not only their own non-car services into their apps, but also other forms of transportation. In January, Uber rolled public transport, including the purchase of tickets, to its app with Denver's RTD (only 1200 RTD tickets were sold through the Uber app in May, according to the company reported by The Denver Post. FTU's latest figures show more than eight million monthly trips). Lifting soon followed in the Denver market to show – but not sell tickets to RTD services.
But the races are heated. Since then, Lyft has added public transport information for Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington. And now, Bloomberg reports that the company is adding New York City public transport information. At least in New York, this lift up a lift over Uber, since Lift also incorporates Citibike information in the app while Uber doesn't (again, Citibike owned by Lift).
However, the problem for both of these companies is that they are not Google Maps. Quite frankly, it takes too long to summarize all the reasons why Google Maps is superior to Lift and Uber's respective apps, but it is enough to say that Google Maps for quite a few has included back-cutting options when searching for directions, as well as walking, cycle, drive and public transport, not to mention traffic and destination information. Google Maps also improves quickly by incorporating much more information on bikeshare (including which docks have bikes and how many, such as Uber and Lyft show for their respective subsidiaries) and electric vehicle charging stations.
In other words, Google Maps is already a one-stop transport shop Uber and Lyft wanted to be, with such an extreme head start, it is difficult to understand how the national companies themselves can distance competition. Not to mention, Google Maps is preloaded at around 85 percent of mobile phones.
But perhaps more importantly, Google Maps does not play in a fenced garden. Lift wants you to have a lift (or use a Citibike or a Lift scooter or whatever). It also does Uber. And they will both steer you away (or not show) the other company's offerings. Google, on the other hand, just wants the cute, sweet data. In addition, there are urban mobility-specific applications such as Citymaps and Transit that have been around for a while, and also include most "mobility" offers as well as public transport options.
I don't know how this game ends for riders, but in trying to take Google Maps as the first app people open when they have to go somewhere, it seems like they're set up for errors.