Uber Buys Mapping Software, Signaling Growing Tensions With Google

Issie Lapowsky

Uber Buys Mapping Software, Signaling Growing Tensions With Google

Uber is finally loosening its chokehold on the billions of dollars it’s raised over the years, with the acquisition of deCarta, a mapping software business that was founded back in 1996.

The acquisition, which Uber confirmed toMashable Tuesday evening, is one of a small number of low-profile acquisitions Uber has made since it was founded back in 2009. It could signal Uber’s first step toward distancing itself from Google and Apple’s mapping services, which it currently relies on.

As one Uber spokesperson told Mashable, “A lot of the functionality that makes the Uber app so reliable, affordable and seamless is based on mapping technologies. With the acquisition of deCarta, we will continue to fine-tune our products and services that rely on maps—for example UberPOOL, the way we compute ETAs, and others—and make the Uber experience even better for our users.”

It stands to reason that Uber would want to develop its own mapping technology, especially in light of the fact that both Google and Apple are now working on their own car technologies. Google is a particularly interesting adversary. Despite being one of Uber’s largest backers, the search giant isreportedly working on its own ride-hailing app, which would compete head on with Uber. Meanwhile, in an apparent challenge to Google, Uber recently announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon to develop its own self-driving car technology.

As the lines between allies and enemies in this industry continue to merge and blur, it makes sense that these tech giants would begin arming themselves for battle with each other. For Uber, that would require developing mapping technology that’s as sophisticated as Google’s.

DeCarta’s software should certainly help. The company’s technology has long been the backbone for General Motors’ OnStar system and Samsung’s location-based services. And according to its website, between 2005 and 2008 it even powered a little product called Google Maps.