It is no longer possible to book Uber rides through Google Maps for Android. Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) removed a feature that allowed for booking from Google Maps, The Verge reported.
This might be a sign that Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) self-driving car venture Waymo is finally going to launch its ride-sharing app. Waymo has been testing ride sharing technology on autonomous Jaguar E-Paces and Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Arizona.
It is the latest round in the war between the two companies that began when Uber bought Anthony Levandowski’s self-driving truck startup Otto Motors. Alphabet accused Levandowski of stealing thousands of files about self-driving vehicle technology from Waymo and sued Uber.
Levandowski was eventually fired in part of a larger scandal that led to the downfall and hasty exit of Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick. The suit was eventually settled, and new Uber CEO Technologies CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is trying to repair the relationship with Uber. Khosrowshahi has even said he would like participate in Waymo’s self-driving car experiments.
It is not clear how a big a loss for Uber this is because Uber was removed from the Apple iOS map feature last year and the iOS version of Google Maps, The Verge reported. Uber can still be accessed through Google Maps but rides cannot be booked through it. Instead rides will have to be booked directly through Uber itself.
Uber Strike in South Africa
Some Uber drivers in South Africa have gone on strike over low pay. A group of Uber and other rideshare drivers struck in Cape Town.
The drivers are mad because Uber payouts are not keeping up with rising fuel prices and an increase in South Africa’s Value Added Tax (VAT), The Independent reported. Striking drivers were apparently pulling over drivers picking up riders in Cape Town. That sounds like traditional labor violence in which unionized workers attacked non-unionized scabs.
The strike began after Uber fuel prices almost doubled in the country. Uber is reportedly refusing to raise fares despite the increased costs.
Once again the gig economy sounds like a recipe for labor unrest rather than high-tech utopia. Companies like Uber will have to recognize unions and start bargaining with them sooner or later – if they want to survive.