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Alphabet Tracker: Waiting For Earnings, Waymo Grows Testing

The dog days are over for Alphabet (GOOG), as shares have regained growth momentum and then some following a dip in the midst of the offensive content controversy. Now, all eyes are ahead once more for Alphabet’s upcoming Q1 earnings report slated for today after market close.

Judging by the movement GOOG has seen in recent weeks, investors are optimistic on Alphabet’s Q1 outcome.

Trading in the last full week of April has brought GOOG to record heights, with mid-morning trading on Wednesday knocking on the door of $890. At the time of writing, GOOG was trading at $889.75, up 0.10 percent from Tuesday’s close and looked to trend flat as the day moved forward.

This put Alphabet’s market cap well above $610 billion at the time.

The Street reportedly pegs Alphabet reporting earnings per share at $7.48 (though whispers in the air say it could hit $7.57) and revenue of $19.65 billion for the quarter.

While the big news will likely be the recent launch of YouTube TV in five major metro areas, no one expects the company will subscribe numbers this early on.

Investors will also be listening for insight related to voice-activated AI — specifically, if Google mentions when and how it plans to monetize — as well as progress on Waymo’s work in self-driving tech and any news from Nest.

PYMNTS will update with the latest on Alphabet’s Q1 earnings report as it rolls out.

Elsewhere in the Alphabet ecosystem, Waymo has moved into a new stage of its self-driving tech project: growing its public tests.

This is not to mean Waymo technicians overseeing empty cars driving on public streets. (Been there, done that.) Rather, Waymo is offering households in the Phoenix, Arizona, area a chance to incorporate the company’s self-driving tech into their daily routines — a live test with live folks.

“Over the course of this trial, we’ll be accepting hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs who want to ride in and give feedback about Waymo’s self-driving cars,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post. “Rather than offering people one or two rides, the goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere.”

Similar to Uber’s self-driving test program in Pittsburgh late last year, residents in Phoenix will be able to hail rides with a technician at the wheel in case of an emergency.

However, Waymo’s test will cover a significantly greater area — twice the size of San Francisco, according to Krafcik. Likewise, users will be able to incorporate self-driving cars into their daily lives as personal vehicles, as well as in on-demand scenarios.

“Our early riders will play an important role in shaping the way we bring self-driving technology into the world — through personal cars, public transportation, ride-hailing, logistics and more,” Krafcik said. “Self-driving cars have the potential to reshape each and every one of these areas, transforming our lives and our cities by making them safer, more convenient and more accessible.”

Waymo has not disclosed how many total vehicles will be operating in the region during the expanded public tests. However, the company will be rolling out a smartphone app to allow users access to the fleet.

The company is also currently accepting applications for the program, and plans to expand to other cities outside the Phoenix area are reportedly forthcoming.

The results of this test run could position Waymo well ahead of the pack of tech companies and vehicle manufacturers vying to get successful self-driving capabilities to the masses.

The one downside is that other geographies and urban environments may pose greater challenges for the budding technology.

Phoenix-area roads are largely laid out in a grid; the terrain is flat, and the weather is dry — ideal situations for early public testing. But in branching out, Waymo will likely consider testing in regions where roadways and weather aren’t as kind to drivers as a means to get a better sense of what their tech is really made of.

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