Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uber

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[L]et's take my favorite quote from Manhattan, where Woody Allen's character pays his date this ultimate compliment in the back of a cab: "You look so beautiful, I can hardly keep my eyes on the meter."

In a smartphone world, meters have no reason to exist. Here's what I'm like in the back of an Uber X: relaxed, enjoying the ride, watching the world go by, enjoying a friendly chat with a friendly driver. [.. P]aying a few extra dollars is completely worth it for that joyous moment of getting out of the back of a car without having to figure out a tip, fiddle with a credit card, or take an utterly pointless, wasteful paper receipt.

My brain still isn't quite used to it: Are you sure — it asks me at the end of every Uber trip — are you sure you shouldn't be taking out your wallet right now? Are we getting away with something here? Shouldn't we reward that nice driver? [..]

Are Uber and Lyft drivers nicer because they know their riders are going to rate them out of five stars? Perhaps. But there are other aspects of the app experience that nudge both of us into good behavior. Passengers have star ratings, too, which only drivers see; this means that when they pick you up, they invariably know you're a good egg.

Dear [old-style] taxi driver: [..] Your protests against the launch of these services in major European cities Wednesday, where you clogged major arteries like bad cholesterol, simply made you look more petulant, aggressive and luddite [..]

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To describe Uber's service -- anyone, with any kind of car, can become an Uber "taxicab". Old system is syncronized, concentrated, specialized - typical 2nd wave. "Taxi driver", a person with a predefined job function, waits somewhere or drives around to get customers to perform that specific function. However Uber software and cell phones allow asynch cab getting behaviour to occur; Anyone anywhere can sign-up, anyone can get a cab, people can use their regular car for carrying customers. Ratings for both driver and customer are kept,  system is peer-to-peer. Perfect 3rd Wave.

Taxi drivers, unions protest; Check.

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