Microsoft has sold a part of its Bing Maps technology to online cab hailing service Uber for an as yet undisclosed amount, reports TechCrunch. About 100 Microsoft engineers are also expected to join Uber, following this deal. The report also mentions that Microsoft will stop collecting map data and instead depend on data licensed from partners like Nokia to continue offering its Bing Maps service. The company will instead focus on the user experience of Bing Maps.
A Uber spokesperson told MediNama that:
We’re excited about the talent and technology this acquisition brings. Mapping is at the heart of what makes Uber great. So we’ll continue to work with partners, as well as invest in our own technology, to build the best possible experience for riders and drivers.
Given that Uber’s app is essentially a map with other features built on top of it, this seems to be the logical next step. Most of the features on the Uber app, including informing users about the estimated time of arrival of a car or providing drivers with directions to the destination are dependent on maps, and it makes sense for Uber to not depend solely on Google and Apple, as it does currently.
Earlier this month, the company had also roped in former Google Maps head Brain McClendon and the Bing engineers joining Uber are expected to report to him. The company had also acquired a mapping startup called deCarta, in March this year. deCarta’s mapping platform features local search, location-based features, geocoding and routing among others.
There’s no doubt that the amount of geospatial data Bing Maps has to offer is markedly lower than what Google or even HERE Maps has to offer, but it still is a good buy for Uber because the on-demand cab hailing service already has feet on the ground. Uber cars already collect a variety of data from around the world, which can be incorporated into Bing Maps to enhance the user experience. Also, this acquisition looks to be more of a talent acquisition. The 100 Bing data engineers coming on board will be the real assets for the San Francisco-headquartered company.