Uber has been in the news quite a lot recently and it got the Mobile Doorman team thinking about changes in the transportation industry. For as long as we can remember taxis have been a 400lb gorilla: they were heavily regulated, there was fixed supply, and they resisted evolution. The consumer experience was not great, transactional at best. Over time the demand for taxis increased both in terms of quantity and service; the supply did not keep up. Accordingly, there was no incentive to improve service and the consumer experience worsened.
Uber changed this trend by enabling people to order cars on their smartphone. One of Uber’s differentiating features might have provoked eye-rolls five years ago; now it’s a crucial part of an extremely in-demand service. “You watch the car on the map on your phone as it makes its way to you,” says Marc Andreessen. “It’s a killer experience.”
Some taxi drivers understand that they have to adopt change or perish. One cabbie said, “No one under the age of 40 with a smartphone is going out and getting a cab anymore… I say if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The days of waiting at a busy intersection while clutching three bags, holding your arm out, and hoping a taxi will show up are over.
We can’t help but wonder if a killer smartphone experience will lead to a similarly disruptive change in an industry that’s a little bit closer to home (pun very much intended).