This Could Be Big for Uber
Despite protests from taxi drivers around the world, Uber Technologies, Inc. continues to develop and grow, expanding its reach.
Uber is searching for new partners, new ways of maximizing its service, and new methods that will promote growth. Uber’s next big thing—and its next challenge to traditional public—comes courtesy of “Google Maps.” Google Maps will soon unveil a service allowing users to book a ride through Uber. Uber will offer an app update on “Android” phones first (it is owned by Google too, after all) and “iOS” smartphones later. (Source: “Google Maps Now Includes a Tab For Uber,” Gizmodo, March 15, 2016.)
The Google Maps update will make it possible for users to connect with Uber anywhere in the world. Alongside the usual car, bus, train, and walking man, a new icon will appear featuring a taxi symbol. Those who click on it will receive details about the location of the nearest Uber drivers and the estimated price for the ride. When users make their selection, a window will automatically open the Uber app. Users can then book a ride book directly. However, the service will also be offered to those who don’t actually have the Uber app on their phones. Given the popularity of Google Maps, this service should attract thousands of first-time users to Uber.
After popular map applications, Uber can gain new users by appealing directly to the stomach. After testing it for a few months in Toronto, Canada, Uber has formally launched its latest proprietary application in several cities; it’s called “UberEats.” (Source: “How UberEats could be your next dinner date,” The Christian Science Monitor, March 16, 2016.)
UberEats doesn’t refer to hungry persons who regularly eat more than they can manage. It is a new food delivery service that guarantees a customer gets their ordered meal in less than 10 minutes.
UberEats works like this: Simply open the Uber app and select the UberEats icon. Assessing your geographic location, a menu will be displayed according to a predetermined list of restaurants in that area. Order the meal that appeals to you and the nearest Uber driver will bring it to your door within the specified time.
For now, delivery is available only during lunch hour in Toronto and almost all other cities. Los Angeles wants to try it for brunch and dinner, but it’s yet to be implemented. The app has now spread to Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.
These new developments will only reinforce the perception of convenience that Uber offers. The service is moving well past the taxi industry, helping to generate business in non-transport-related areas faster than it is eroding traditional taxi operations. Many new restaurants and food establishments can spread the word, taking advantage of Uber.
The standalone version of the application challenges a number of popular food apps in Europe, including “Alloresto” and startups like “PopChef.” The growth potential in North America and Europe alone is enormous. Then, after bringing you hot food, Uber could adapt its app to other services, such as parcel delivery. At that point, the likes of UPS and FedEx will start to feel the Uber pressure.
Many often criticize Uber because of its allegedly unfair practices that hurt licensed taxi drivers. Yet the market does not care. Instead, the majority of consumers seem to prefer the deregulation of what has typically been a government-controlled industry. As such, it comes as no surprise that Uber is the most valuable startup in the world, worth more than $50.0 billion. (Source: “Top 10 Most Valuable Startups in the World,” Epoch Times, March 14, 2016.)
Uber, which now operates in more than 250 cities worldwide, has therefore overcome obstacles and criticisms, generating an impressive growth rate with no signs of slowing down. The Vehicle for Hire service (VFH) keeps a 20% commission on all fares, whether the drivers are professional or amateur, operating their own vehicles or taxis (in some cities).
And Uber Technologies, Inc. has more innovations in the works. The company has been shopping around for talent from many former startups, including Facebook and Alphabet, taking on more than 100 engineers. They are working on navigation, vehicle safety, and autonomy, as well as software and hardware.
These are all good signs, especially if an Uber IPO is in the works.