Ah, Uber. I’m just not sure what the company wants to be with its ever-expanding brand and platform. One day it’s a platform for flying cars. The next day it’s all about the bikes, then he decides to leave Taxis share their platform.
And yesterday, he set his sights (or site, to be precise) much higher than carpooling and food delivery to something akin to the concierge of life, launching a new range of service offerings under the brand. Let’s take a look at their offerings and share some thoughts on the merits of each:
Uber is here to solve the app switching problem with its own platform.
From this summer in the UK, you will be able to book trains, coaches and car hire using the app.
And, in the US and Canada, you can book rides for every leg of your itinerary all at once. You can then earn 10% in Uber Cash for each Reserve ride you book.
Verdict: It’s clever and is very disruptive to platforms such as Omiowhich partners with over 1,000 transportation providers across trains, buses, flights, ferries, cars and airport transfers for in-app bookings.
And, assuming your flights aren’t delayed by baggage claim, the idea of driving to an airport and having your ride waiting for you is quite appealing.
All Aboard the Uber Party Bus
And if that’s not enough, Uber Charter is launching in the US this summer, letting you book a party bus, van, or charter bus. Ideal for weddings and work trips.
Verdict: Nice. Usually, you would Google for ages to find a company that can take you to a winery, work retreat, or whatever. I could imagine an integration with Trip Advisor or even Get your guide in the future to include experiments.
Vouchers for events
Uber Vouchers is what it sounds like. You can organize vouchers for guests at a business event or a wedding, for example, and share them with your guests via the app.
Verdict: As with the idea of the Uber party bus, I think the company is really chasing the wedding market – picking up guests from the airport, arranging the ride to the bridal shower, etc. Given the number of weddings postponed due to COVID, this could be hugely lucrative.
Ok, it sounds like a massage chair, but it’s actually an app feature that lets you request a ride in a premium electric vehicle like a Tesla or Polestar.
Uber is also on a mission to convert its drivers into electric vehicles. They can compare the cost of ownership of an EV with a non-EV using the app. The company has also added a map of the nearest EV chargers and their charging speeds.
Verdict: This is curious given that ride-sharing companies have a hard time finding drivers. And if they can’t afford gasoline, they won’t be able to afford an electric vehicle to use on the platform. So they will be rent a Tesla from Hertz or similar.
I want green mobility, but I’m not sure of the cost-benefits of that, or if it will lead to more drivers. I’m skeptical.
Uber now integrates Google Assistance into Uber Eats to allow you to order food using your voice.
Verdict: You’ve been able to do this with Alexa for a while. This only expands the offer.
Uber Eats at the stadium
If you love watching sports outdoors, you’re in luck. Uber partners with Postmates for on-site food ordering at select stadiums.
Verdict: Many smart stadiums already offer the same service in their own apps. This keeps it in the Uber family.
This week we also saw Uber introduce two autonomous delivery programs in Los Angeles: Serving robotics sidewalk robots and Motional all-electric autonomous vehicle fleets.
The latter is the most interesting. Motional and Uber announce their partnership in December last year, bringing the first self-driving vehicle pilot to the Uber Eats network and Motional’s first delivery attempt.
Verdict: Delivery robots and self-driving vehicles are a logical solution to the shortage of drivers. Drivers who have just shelled out to rent a Tesla won’t be too worried just yet, but it shows how strong the wind is blowing.
Uber One was spear in November 2021, offering platform upgrades for $9.99 per month, such as $5 in Uber Cash for late deliveries. Today, the company is launching benefits with partners such as Marriott Bonvoy®, CLEAR and obé Fitness, expanding the program globally.
So, in conclusion, Uber is really trying to be a concierge of life, reducing our decision fatigue and context switching by making everything available in one app. It doesn’t necessarily offer something you couldn’t get elsewhere, but it does make it all available in one place.
It wouldn’t surprise me if you could book flights or sign up for a digital biometric passport program in the future.
But all this means that they retain their customers. They also prevent you from looking elsewhere. I’m also curious about its impact on small businesses, not the Uber platform.
And more worryingly, Uber has a rich arsenal of data to determine future product offerings and share with their extensive network of third parties.
How you feel about that depends on where you stand on digital privacy — and whether we’ve lost this battle.
I wondered Uber’s constant diversification for a while, and I can’t help but think this is just the beginning.