The number of people who haven't yet heard of the transportation/technology startup Uber is shrinking by the minute. Uber produces a mobile application that is used to connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire, typically luxury vehicles – kind of a high-tech, high-zoot taxi calling service.
Use of the app may be spreading gospel of Uber within urban centers, but the company is also generating tremendous buzz for sourcing massive investment, including a reported $250 million sourced from Google Ventures. Google's quarter-billion makes up the better part of a $360-million investment round, with a resultant company valuation set at a staggering $3.5 billion.
So, what does Google, famous researcher into autonomous car technology, want with Uber's popular ride-sharing software? Our wandering minds immediately leap to fantasies about driverless limousines and taxis as a logical next step. And, while that type of service might be possible down the road, a recent article from Forbes indicates that the road in question is a long one.
The reality may be a bit less theatrical than robot cabs, but is interesting nevertheless. Forbes believes that Google likes the concept of repurposing Uber tech to work with its own blooming Google Shopping Express play in the near term, along with all kinds of on-demand delivery in the not-distant future. The core idea of Shopping Express is to create a near-seamless way to go from a one-click purchase on your laptop to the knock of a delivery driver at your front door. Imagine combining the depth of Amazon's shopping experience with the instant gratification of ordering Chinese food, and you get the idea. Google would seem to believe that Uber's app, technology, and engineer brains are a fast step forward in that direction.