Uber has become one of the most popular transportation companies in the world. That isn’t exactly a large feat, however, the fact that it became so without actually owning a single car is.
Rather than paying for a fleet of cars and licensing fees, Uber manages to get around all that by marketing itself as a “ride-sharing” company.
In the past, people were forced to either pay the high rates associated with taxis or look to the internet for ride-sharing options. However, these weren’t always ideal, as you would have to take the risk of sharing a car with a weirdo you met on Craigslist for an extended period of time.
That all changed with Uber. Now, you can simply get a ride right from your phone. It has completely changed the way people get around and has infuriated the established transportation companies.
What Makes it Disruptive?
Disruptive innovations are ones that completely change an established industry—usually making it more accessible for a fraction of the established costs. Uber fits the bill here. It completely changed the way we get around and for a more reasonable price.
However, traditionally disruptive innovations start at the bottom of the market and cater to the low-end consumer. They usually offer cheaper, less luxurious options. Uber doesn’t exactly qualify here. While it does currently offer its services to both high-end and low-end consumers when it first launched it was exclusively catering to the wealthy elite by offering luxury cars now renamed Uber Black.
Reactions to Uber
Upon its launch, Uber offered a superior product at a reduced cost. Instead of adapting, the established transportation companies elected to try and boycott the new ridesharing app.
Over the last decade, there have been several protests staged by taxi companies all across the globe.
From London to Montreal, to Madrid, to Hong Kong, taxi drivers have protested from blocking roads to refusing to accept fares. The latter form of protest was what taxi companies chose to do in London in 2014, bringing much of the city to a standstill. However, it didn’t quite yield the expected results, as Uber received a spike in downloads from people looking for alternative means of transportation.
How Uber Changed the Game
Before Uber, you were at the mercy of taxi drivers’ whims. While it’s illegal in many places for drivers to refuse service, many often do because they don’t believe the trip is worth their time—particularly for shorter trips.
With Uber, drivers aren’t notified of the destination until they accept the fare, which eliminates any possible refusal due to the low-cost associated with such a trip.
Additionally, Uber is much cheaper than the average taxi. Not only that, but Uber provides a quote for how much each trip will cost.
In the past, taxi passengers could be at risk of unscrupulous drivers taking scenic routes in order to price gauge their customers—particularly customers who are from out of town and not familiar with the city. With Uber, if drivers try these tactics passengers can report them and receive a refund for the excess cost.
All of these changes have given more power to the customer, as opposed to the service provider.