When I get a new phone the first thing I do is clear the phone of apps like Angry Birds that come preloaded and that I would never use! I do occasionally hear of an app that sounds great but that never gets used (do I really need Stopwatch Pro?) but on the whole other than weather, news, calendar, note taking, maps and public transport timetables my phone gets used for making calls, emailing and taking photos. But one app based service has come along that is exciting in that it is easy to use, speeds up a process and saves money. Everything that mobile technology should do.
My new favourite app is the mini cab booking service Uber. There are times when public transport is a difficult option and I have to resort to a taxi. In London black cab prices have increasingly “upset” my thrifty sensibilities. The once affordable Addison Lee became no longer a cost effective option and mini cab offices are rarely where you want them and often a bit seedy. The simple Uber app based system of hailing a taxi is obvious and engaging (watching all those Uber drivers driving near your location like ants on your phone feels very modern). Uber prices blow the competition out of the water and my experience with speed of arrival is phenomenal. I was in an Uber cab last week and asked the driver how it was working. He said it had revolutionised his life. He was cab driving as part of making his family life work financially. He had been working for a mini cab office 10 hours a day to bring in enough income. By going alone on the Uber system he could earn enough in 6 hours and he got his payment straight into his account without any hassle.
A service that improves the lot of the provider and the user in terms of efficiency and in monetary terms is a design and business holy grail.
But is it too good to be true? Those that are threatened (the likes of the black cab driver and the wealthy Addison Lee) are constantly saying that anyone can be an Uber driver and that there is no control, but I find it hard to see what the difference is between Uber driver screening and what black cab drivers have to go through to become registered drivers. Lobbying against Uber from the competition is getting louder and when I read this last week about Uber being banned in Delhi I started to wonder how long it will be before my re kindled love affair with cost effective late night cabs will last.
– Wayne Hemingway