Because of my personal and professional habits I have been exposed to the sharing economy and its services, since the beginning. I have been using Uber in London, Paris and Milan; I have been watched airbnb, I have investigated other apps and services (the new parking apps).
Uber, my first experience and attempt to understand more. I am still using the service and I have been watching the protests raised all over the globe, so close to me, in Milan, Paris, now London in a few days, against the new service. Change always brings pain, and Uber represents change. And it’s not just Uber: there is a new plethora of smart-phone apps that will bring a driver to your door in a few minutes. All tentative of resistances from old European super-regulated lobbies – taxies are just the most visible example – won’t change their fate. As Archie Bland commented, on his article on the Independent few days ago:
Uber argument that the regulation of most taxi markets is based on a model that smartphones have made irrelevant, seems credible. And it’s hard to escape the feeling that whatever bumps may be in the road, Uber is an idea that has fundamentally changed things, and that sooner or later, the black cab as we know it will be extinct.
It’s would be smarter, at this stage, to fight and compete on the same ground instead of preparing to fight useless battles.
Uber could be killed so easily from a so massive quantity of cabbies in London and taxis in Paris and Milan, re-adapting and using its same technology weapon, and making advantage of a better presence in the territory and a competitive price. But taxi drivers have chosen to fight using old tactics and weapons: strikes and protests. They are not focusing on customer satisfaction and benefits. They are instead putting all efforts in a desperate defence of their old (even if regulated by local laws) privileges.
At the very end, I am aware about Uber’s premium price but I am too aware about his tremendous efficiency. And I make my choice based on two main criteria: the ubiquitous use of credit cards, and the easy-to-use app with its stylish info-maps.
Only one cab over 6-7 (I’m personally making this statistic) accepts credit cards in London. Some of them state to accept cards and then apparently discover that the machine doesn’t work, once at destination. Same situation in Milan, where at least radio-taxis are starting to be equipped with card machines – emails and apps still represent the future.
It’s not just Uber. Still Mr. Bland on the subject:
They all (sharing services, my note) propose to remove the middle man, but even that’s sort of old hat: eBay and the like have been doing it for years. What’s new is the promise to exploit spare capacity with a structure that means that anyone can be a business (…). This is happening; it’s unstoppable. I guess the sharing economy, or a version of it, became inevitable from the moment that Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone.