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Comparison Of Google’s Strategic Advantages With Those Of Its Competitors

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Google’s self-driving car project aims, in Sergey Brin’s words, “to make roadways far safer and transportation far more affordable and accessible to those who can’t drive”. With more than ninety percent of crashes being caused by human error, autonomous vehicles will be a safer alternative [2]. A tech giant like Google has no dearth of top-notch scientists to propel them in this endeavor. Also, after winning the DARPA challenge, a federally sponsored competition for autonomous vehicles, they got the freedom and state laws approval to test their cars on roads. Currently, Waymo is at the forefront in the development of autonomous cars. It is the only one to have reached level 4 out of 5 in autonomous driving, where a car can navigate a planned course without driver intervention. In this essay, we compare Google’s strategic advantages with those of its competitors and recommend strategies for staying ahead and for monetizing this business stream.

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Google’s Strategic Advantages

Google has several advantages when it comes to self-driving cars. With Google Maps, most routes are already mapped with great precision. Also, “Waymo, has driven the most miles – 6 million on public roads, and 5 billion in simulation — and has collected vast stores of valuable data”. In addition, Google has an existing strong infrastructure and financial standing, but perhaps Google’s key advantage lies in its highly talented engineers and scientists. Hence, by investing in talent acquisition, innovation, and infrastructure, Google should be able to maintain it’s supremacy over its competitors.

Competitors’ Strategic Advantages

Being the pioneer of autonomous driving, Google has many advantages like petabytes of data, high credibility, and a large capacity and willingness for investment. However, there are few opportunities for strategic improvement. For example, with Tesla owners with self-driving car all over the world, Tesla has the unique advantage of being able to collect data from a wide variety of environments. This allows them to generate “data that’s more relevant to machine learning algorithms in autonomous driving”. As such, while Google may have an algorithmic advantage, Tesla may have the advantage in data. However, Waymo “has partnerships with two major automakers Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover, with several more in the pipeline”.

We recommend that Waymo leverage these partnerships to introduce semi-autonomous vehicles to the market that can also generate more valuable data. This data can then be used to speed up initiatives towards the ultimate goal of fully autonomous vehicles.

Recommendations

We recommend that, as a primary strategy, Google should license its self-driving platform to automakers. However, given that most handset makers who licensed the Android platform lost money, the terms of such an agreement must be attractive so as to combat any resistance from fearful automakers. Google can then target secondary revenue streams through new opportunities for local and targeted “advertising for passengers and even pedestrians through external displays”. Moreover, since commute times can now be spent freely, Google’s licensed vehicles can promote its products such as its search engine, Google TV, and Gmail, all with advertising.

Finally, Google should continue pursuing its plans for autonomous ride-hailing services, as it has the opportunity to gain significant market share by being the first-mover.

15 July 2020

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