When peer-to-peer file sharing service Napster was closed down in July 2001, many thought that would be the end to the story. However, Napster proved that it takes substantially more than a hefty injunction on your doorstep to keep an innovative company down.
Two years after Napster ceased its file sharing service, it was back in the form of a fully legal online music store.
Last December, this narrative repeated itself with Uber playing the role of Napster.
Following a series of protests by taxi drivers, the Spanish courts decided to order Uber to wind up its ride-sharing service in Spain. Uber, as is reasonable when a court tells you to do something, complied and appeared to be backing out of the Iberian Peninsula. We should have known better than to think that they would just leave.
Uber is back in the Spanish market, but this time they decided if they can’t transport people, they’ll transport food.
From fryer to door
The San Francisco-based tech company has launched a new enterprise under the UberEats name and is promising to bring hungry Spanish patrons the best meals from the best local restaurants in under 10 minutes.
Uber claim that UberEATS provides a streamlined process that circumvents normal waiting times. Simply order food via the UberEATS tab of the Uber app and their software will handle the rest. As soon as you order, your delivery request is sent to a local driver who whisks your meal straight to your door.
Uber’s services have stirred up controversy across Europe due to contentions over regulation of its taxi-booking service. Considering the nature of its newest service, it’s likely that UberEATS will attract similar criticism, too.
A logistics company
The launch of UberEATS confirms what many people already suspected: Uber isn’t a taxi-ordering service, it’s a logistics company. They create software that borrows the previously unused delivery capacity of private transportation and puts it to work.
UberEATS joins a an ever expanding list of Uber services. Last year saw corner shop delivery service UberEssentials launch in Washington D.C. and bike messenger service UberRush start operating in New York.
With a current valuation of close to $40bn, Uber is only going to keep expanding its services.
A delivery company
Uber’s trackrecord proves its is capable of creating good infrastructure. Whether it’s people, food, letters or a loaf of bread, the company is simply good at organising a way of getting things from Point A to Point B.
With a quickly expanding portfolio, it’s only a matter of time until Uber attempts to turn its hand to the mainstream delivery industry.
While we can see this working in the overworked and under-resourced domestic delivery sector (especially over Christmas), we simply can’t see an Uber service working in the professional sector.
Without rigorous recruitment processes and robust internal quality assurance checks in place, no company is going to trust Joe Bloggs in a car to transport medical specimens or legal records. It just doesn’t make sense.
That said, we are eager to see quite what the future holds for Uber and the delivery industry at large.