Ride Finder was Google’s attempt at setting up a web service similar to Uber way back in 2007. It worked with Google Maps and helped users find a taxi, limousine, or shuttle available near their locations.
It used the vehicles’ GPS systems and updated itself every 5 minutes. Once the user found an appropriate option, they could contact the respective dispatcher and order transportation.
While from a current point of view, it may be hard to understand why such a service would ever fail, the truth is it just wasn’t the right time. As with many of Google’s projects, Ride Finder came out ahead of its time.
Mobile services just weren’t the norm back in 2007, and people preferred the old fashion way of calling a taxi company, asking a friend for their preferred provider, or just waiting on the sidewalk for an available car to drive by.
The tool never left its prototype stage in Google Labs and wasn’t overly promoted. It was available only in a few major cities in the USA, such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The lack of sufficient traction led to the search giant’s decision to discontinue the service in 2009.