Uber is currently the undisputed leader of the ride-sharing market, but that’s mainly because no major companies have really entered the market themselves, they’ve simply been pouring funding into Uber’s numerous competitors, which are all startups. If a company like Facebook or Google were to enter the market, however, Uber would have a significantly harder time maintaining its dominance, which is why a recently published patent application from Facebook should have Uber worried. According to the patent, Facebook is interested in creating a “carpooling” system that uses Nokia’s HERE mapping service, which sounds a hell of a lot like ride-sharing.
“How are we going to get there—Uber?” “No, Facebook.” In a patent application published today—first surfaced by the legal technology firm ClientSide—Facebook outlines a system for setting up carpools for people attending the same event. Facebook already allows users of the social network to set up events, and integrates maps from HERE—the former Nokia map product that was recently sold to a group of car makers—with directions on how to get to the event. But Facebook’s patent application goes a step further: For future events, you’d potentially be able to select what mode of transport you’re planning on taking to get there, and team up with others who want to get there the same way. In practice, this could mean something as simple as Facebook matching up two people who want to take the train together, or it could allow someone driving to an event to pick up passengers. The patent application shows a mapping system that outlines how a driver could pick up a group of passengers along a route to an event. While this feature might not sound particularly useful in a busy city, it could potentially be a boon for those living in the suburbs, college towns, or less populated areas. If five people from the same town in Indiana are all going to the same music festival in Tennessee, it might well be easier and cheaper for them to ride there together.