Users were the first to open their car doors and let Google in. Carrying around their smartphones, they used Google maps to find their route. They then started checking traffic in real-time using Waze, a crowd sourced application acquired by Google. Built-in GPS applications didn’t stand a chance. Bluetooth-connected mobiles also serve as car radios, TVs, and games consoles, which has enabled Google to collect new data. Google is not trying to destroy the automobile industry but simply twist it to its advantage to extract the invaluable, very substance of the 21st century: data. Google is not alone in this. Apple and Microsoft also dream of integrating their operating systems into vehicles, in symbiosis with their mobile device OSs: Android Auto for Google and CarPlay for Apple. But Google is not stopping there. It wants to muscle in between drivers and automobile manufacturers. According to Oussama Ammar, cofounder of TheFamily, Google is intensively lobbying car insurance companies.
Why wouldn’t these companies turn to Google to put the finishing touches to their policies and prices? Google’s data means it knows everything about drivers: their state of health, identity, journeys, etc. Google’s masterstroke is its self-driving car. To everyone’s surprise, Google took a step back from its search engine business in 2010 to develop a driverless car. People made fun of it, especially in the automobile sector. Affronted car manufacturers reminded everyone that Google had not invented anything and then worked twice as hard to bring out their own self-driving models. The incredible Mercedes F015 self-driving luxury car was presented at the 2015 CES. Although the automobile industry’s pride has swollen, Google must also be smiling. While passengers are being driven around in their living room-like F015, they will be playing online games, attending videoconferences, chatting to their families or consulting their emails. This means they will be showering Google with the data it is so fond of. In the face of this success, Google could even set up a company to sell its self-driving system as a white-label service...and then analyze the data collected.