The cab industry was sailing along doing business as usual … and BAM out of nowhere came Uber to disrupt the entire industry by doing an old thing in a new way. Uber, the “request a ride” service that enables anyone with a smartphone to launch an app and summons a ride from one of many nearby Uber drivers using their personal vehicles, is growing in popularity day by day and leaving a big trail of pissed off taxi cab drivers in its wake. Uber, Lyft, and other new companies that operate using a similar business model have totally and completely disrupted the taxi cab industry in ways that will result in permanent change.
I had the opportunity to speak with a taxi driver recently about the sweeping changes that are taking place and the Uber effect (pun intented) that this is happening on his business. As I listened to many of his very legitimate gripes, I could certainly understand his concern but the gripes were largely related to HIS personal loss and the taxicab industry as a whole. I can’t help but empathize with the plight of anyone working in any industry going through drastic change that results in decrease of income and the resultant disruption in quality of life that follows. I’m pretty sure there were some pretty pissed off horse carriage manufacturers and typewriter salesmen as those industries were replaced by newer innovations in technology. However, what ultimately matters most is what is good for CONSUMERS overall. As much as it sucks that many taxi cab drivers will be facing an obvious drop in revenue, “is it ultimately what is best for most consumers ?” is the only question that truly matters and is what makes every industry thrive.
As a society advances and new technologies, innovations, business models, and entirely new categories of businesses are developed, that creates uncomfortable yet necessary change. As the old saying goes, the only CONSTANT in life is CHANGE. Uber and similar companies have created a change within the taxi cab industry. As city governments and business leaders now wrestle with important questions such as “how do we best offset the possible shrinking of the cab industry ?”, “who is liable in the event of an accident involving an Uber driver driving his/her personal vehicle ?”, “how do we guarantee that Uber drivers have been properly background checked and vetted ?”, and many other pertinent questions, the change taking place in this old established industry is in full speed. Change is never comfortable and as Amazon wrecked shop for brick-and-mortar booksellers and Napster (illegally) and iTunes (legally) decimated the corner CD shops, similar disruptive forces are taking place across numerous industries. It’s hard to argue that much of these changes haven’t resulted in more convenience, more choice, and better prices, which all ultimately speak to what is best for the consumer. Disruption and change aren’t comfortable but they are absolutely necessary for the continued evolution of mankind and of our society.
Have you ever or would you ever use Uber to request a ride from a stranger ?