An on-demand limo service you can book through your iPhone or SMS? In your town? More likely than you think – if you happen to live in San Francisco.
Do any of you have fond memories of the Dot-Com bubble? I was only 10 when it burst, but as a kid, there were just so many fantastical dot-coms. My favorite was Kozmo.com, a short-lived variety webstore that offered free one-hour delivery on anything you bought. They probably didn’t realize that people would be ordering a stick of gum just for kicks, and their bubble deflated faster than you could say “pop”.
Of course, the few that survived the crash ended up practically changing the way we live in the 21st century – I daresay you’ve heard of Amazon, eBay, and Google. Perhaps UberCab will soon find itself among the pinnacle of incredibly useful web services. After all, the idea is brilliant and potentially lucrative – drivers pick up fares during their down-time and make a bit of extra profit, while customers get a discounted limo service. Plus, the whole idea is very 2010 – the entire service is conducted through an iPhone app or through SMS.
I think the best part is that you’re billed through the UberCab app, which eliminates my least favorite part of taking a cab – praying that I have enough change for the ride. It’s not that I mind the cost, but since I only take a cab as a last resort – namely, those nights when I’m stranded after the subway stops running – I rarely think of keeping a cab fare on me.
While we’re on about costs, it looks like this new service is about 1.5-2 times more expensive than a regular taxi, which seems a bit steep – for instance, the 4-mile ride to my old high school used to cost $15 and would set me back $30 with an UberCab according to the formula on their website. However, don’t forget that you’re getting a black limo for that money, not an embarrassingly yellow taxi.
I’m sure the company has a few kinks to iron out – after all, they’ve recently launched and building up a fleet of cars city by city may take some time – but so far it looks like they’re doing all the right things. They use a feedback feature where both drivers and customers rate each other, so you’ll know about the quality of the driver ahead of time, and they’ll know the same about you. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this in Toronto – we already have the Cash Cab driving through town, so why not the Uber Cab?
Interested in other apps? You can read about this nifty scanning app that lets you check customs regulations on the go, or get MSN (“Windows Live Messenger”, as they like to call it now) on your iPhone and iPod Touch.