7 Sep 2023

MaaS: Google activities as a wake-up call for the industry

Google is pushing ahead with the integration of Google Maps and mobility providers. Meanwhile, 500 cities with 72 operators are "live"

Massive investments are still being made in the app to make it a "super app". But the industry itself is also investing. This is also shown by the exhibitors at IT-TRANS 2024.

Mobility must change, and the digitalisation of demand, supply and operation is just as much a key element as multimodality. This is one reason why the Federal Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, has been so insistent on a digital solution for the Deutschland-Ticket. This approach is also being taken in other countries. Only recently, a Danish consortium awarded a contract for a uniform digital mobility solution for public transport in the country - to well-known providers of software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Google invests in "Super App"

The fact that brokerage commissions could one day flow after the successful mediation of information on mobility is now attracting Google's attention. For some time now, the tech giant has been investing billions to expand its map service Google Maps into a "super app" to locate and answer all kinds of search queries - and then integrate them into its business model. The expansion took place in several stages, including the (real-time) integration of DB offers and links to the corresponding ticketing, the integration of e-scooters or transport associations. Flixbus and Flixtrain connections are also visible in Google Maps. The drop-down menu "Details" leads to a link "Buy tickets". From here you go directly to the Flix booking screen. The route and travel date are already preset, but Google might not stop with the redirection in the near future. It is working on integrating the Google Pay payment service into the search.

The attitude in German local transport is divided

The advocates of information and distribution liberalisation want to make it as easy as possible for (potential) customers, who are increasingly becoming "digital natives". Increases in demand are supposed to more than compensate for financial losses, for example through commissions. The other side fears the loss of distribution power, customer relations - and not least of interpretive sovereignty, also vis-à-vis the most important customer, politics. Joint responses have been attempted, but so far have not been implemented across the board - unlike in Denmark or Switzerland. However, the upgrade in the works for Google Maps and the app's current efforts to integrate other mobility service providers are a new wake-up call for the industry. It must observe and analyse the development carefully. At the same time, defensive strategies must focus on customer benefits.

MaaS also one of the big topics at IT-TRANS 2024

The IT-TRANS from 14 to 16 May 2024 will show which new innovations companies will bring to the market in the field of MaaS in the coming months: Several exhibitors will focus on Mobility as a Service at their booths. For example, they will show innovative software for traffic planning, simulation and management, smart mobility, distribution and control systems or multimodal mobility platforms. Among others, Amco, AMCON Software, BLIC Beratungsgesellschaft für Leit-, Informations- & Computertechnik, ESM and Streamax Technology will be there. However, the IT-TRANS sponsors IVU Traffic Technologies and PTV Group are also at the leading edge of the topic of MaaS and will be showing their latest developments in Karlsruhe next year.

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Portrait Katrin Wagner
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