Uber? What the &%$# is Uber?


Uber, when you get down to it, is an app. Without that little bit of software running on millions of smartphones, there would be no multi-billion dollar business and no millions of Uber rides each day in cities around the world.
The essence of Uber is that a person needing transport uses the app to signal his need at the same time a driver uses another app to signal the availability of he and his private car to provide transport. The app links the two.
It is the logical next step from the traditional taxicab. I used to joke to my taxi passengers that eventually some smart cookie would link the cruise control to the GPS, the meter, and the credit card reader, and my job would vanish.
Uber (and Google and Apple) is heading down that road of self-driving electric cars. One day, it will be cheaper and more convenient for many people to sell their personal cars and just use shared cars. If you think about the total cost of ownership, with drivers licence, registration, petrol, maintenance, insurance and the hidden cost of a garage to house your ride, that day may be tomorrow.
Uber (and Lyft and Sidecar etc.) are changing the world.
My first experience with Uber came in Sydney. Qantas had invited me, along with a few dozen other frequent flyers, to lunch at Rockpool in Sydney. Free flights included. It’s a great bargain for them. They get their best and cheapest customers sozzled, and find out where all the loopholes are. Anyway, after one of these events, there were four of us in a hurry to get back to the airport, where Qantas had promised us entry into their exclusive Chairmans Lounge while awaiting our free flights home.
“Let’s Uber there!” one mellow fellow said, and he showed us how the car could be tracked right down to its sparkling arrival in front of us, where a besuited driver opened the doors of a limousine and sped us off to the land of pre-flight champagne.
As a Silver Service driver myself, I could see the possibilities, and when Uber announced its intention to operate in Canberra, it was really a foregone conclusion that I would put my name down.


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