Uber isn’t allowing its position as market leader to go to its head, announcing a plethora of ongoing innovations, changes and future planning. The major one, on Thursday, saw the rollout of a self-driving car program in San Francisco. Assigned at random, self-driving vehicles, with a human co-pilot, will pick you up and hopefully drop you off in one piece. An Uber spokesperson said that San Francisco is an ideal testing ground, in that it has difficult areas to navigate, weather changes and plenty of patrons. In a smart tactic, Uber hasn’t made a big deal out of this, allowing word-of-mouth to demonstrate their approach to innovation but avoiding any outlandish claims of redefining the future of ride-sharing or claiming anything more than the truth – that they have one eye on the next stage of human evolution.
Meanwhile, in India, the business has demonstrated how adaptable it is to regional requirements. The company now allows users to “dial an Uber,” by navigating on their web browser to dial.uber.com – meaning that even those without a smartphone can make the most of the service. According to Uber, the theory is based on feedback regarding Internet connectivity in smaller cities and the number of smartphones used in the country. A new feature, also allows people to order an Uber for friends and family who don’t have the app or a smartphone. An additional button, allows the user to specify whether the ride is for themselves, or someone else – and set the location for a different person. Then, the rider will receive a text message, just like standard users do in the app. Cleverly, the person who ordered the vehicle can choose to pay via credit card.
This kind of adaptability, emphasised by Uber’s addition of an SOS button following the rape of a female passenger last year, shows that the business has no intention of resting on its laurels or failing to adapt to incremental technology changes and regional necessities. By taking this attitude, Uber not only solidifies its number one position in the market but also continues to seduce investors and convert ride-sharing sceptics, as the taxi industry continues to stamp its feet in protest.
As it ends up, the real story of Uber may not be in its disruption of the taxi industry, but in its ongoing fearlessness to change, innovate and reinvent itself.