In the grand scheme of the tech world, it's safe to say that Google is "everywhere". This is especially true with Google Maps, thanks to its easy-to-implement API. Businesses the world over have come to rely on it to show potential customers exactly where they're located. Sometimes, it almost feels like Google Maps has a monopoly; when have you ever visited a website that had a Bing maps widget?
While many companies rely on Google Maps in one way or another, it doesn't mean that all of them are content to stay if a better option arises. In Uber's case, it now has fat enough pockets to not just move away from Google Maps, but to create its own global mapping solution - and that's exactly what it's going to be doing.
One of Uber's ultimate goals is to offer transportation with driverless cars. In order for such a system to be as good as it can be, it's not always a good idea to rely on a third-party service. With Uber mapping the world on its own terms, and constantly keeping it up-to-date as its cars drive the roads, it could have a unique advantage in the market. It's an advantage that's apparently worth a $500 million investment.
One thing that's interesting about Uber's move here is that Google was an original investor in the company. As time passed, the big G decided to begin looking at going solo; not so much with creating a competing service, but at least creating its own autonomous vehicles.
A big reason why Uber might be better off on its own is that the service could prove far more specific. Google Maps might not be able to tell you where the front (or main) door of a building is, but that's the kind of information that could be wrapped into Uber's own mapping solution. It's easy to see how Uber going its own way here could give it a big advantage in the market. The company to date has not confirmed the rumor that it's working on its own mapping solution, but for so many reasons, it's easy to believe.