I first heard of this service from my roommate who just landed a swanky job in San Francisco. His flight back to Seattle came in late, and so instead of taking the Link to three buses and still having to walk half a mile to reach our apartment in the wilds of Shoreline, he elected to, “Summon a Level 15 UberCab” as he put it. 17 Minutes after he pressed the “Set pickup location” button, a sleek, leather interiored black Lincoln Town Car arrived like a chariot of the cybernetic gods. Best of all, the service sends receipts via email, so filing the expense report consisted of forwarding the receipt on to his HR department.
He liked it so much he sent me an invite. Not just because he’s an awesome guy (although he is), but also because we BOTH would get a $10 credit if we used the service.
This morning, I found a desk on Craigslist that I’ve been lusting after for a year, but how was my careless self to get it to my apartment? Uber to the rescue! The location service found my address in the middle of a confusing apartment complex with only the smallest adjustment on my part (easily done via the google-maps integration). The system informed me that my driver would be arriving in 12 minutes. We all know what twelve minutes means in taxi-lingua, right? (Somewhere between 30 minutes and never, in my experience.)
So I call up my driver (the app has a handy “phone driver” button, once you have place a pick-up request) and ask if he would mind if I stuffed a dissembled pile of Ikea into the back of his town car. “No problem”, he says, “I’m driving a Navigator.” He was there in 11 minutes. I was at my apt. in 15, and he and I were on our separate ways as soon as my precious cargo was unloaded from it’s leathery embrace. When you sign up for Uber, you must file a credit card number (But you are not limited to just one, giving the ability to charge a corporate card for business-related rides), so there is no money to change hands… just a firm handshake and a five star rating.
This is what mobile should be like:
- A strong use-case for the application.
- Very good integration of locative technologies
- A clean interface.
- An infrastructure that makes life easier for both the driver and the rider.
I have not personally experienced this, but other users have reported the following:
- The ride being twice as much or more as a Taxi.
Now Uber does state that pricing is based on a demand algorithm, so during times when many people are placing requests, the cost per mile will rise. Friday and Saturday nights at last call might not be the best time to try Ubering across town.
Note: Why are they not called “UberCab” anymore? This is why: http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/24/ubercab-ordered-to-cease-and-desist/