Do you think of Google as a mobility service provider? While it does not yet offer its own transportation services, it is establishing itself as the leading provider of travel planning services. The cooperation with Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s leading rail network, which was just announced last week, is only one of many examples which show that Google relentlessly expands its travel-related services. By establishing interfaces to many established transportation services – including mass transit systems, trains and airlines – it raises the barrier to entry for potential competitors and the value of its competitive position.
Google’s autonomous vehicles fit nicely into this scenario. Once they are ready to be released to the public, Google can become a full-service mobility provider: It then has the technology and all information to pick its customers up anywhere and bring them to their destination in the most time- and cost-effective way. It will be able to anticipate transportation demand, to react to delays of trains and flights and to optimize the placement of its vehicles. Its intelligent fleet will change the economics of transportation and significantly lower the costs of personal mobility.
Taken together, Google maps, its travel planing services and its autonomous vehicle technology, provide a strong foundation for becoming one of the key players in transportation in the next decade. Google is preparing itself to capture a much larger share of the transportation industry’s revenue than the great auto makers anticipate today.