The End of the On-Demand Dream

Farhad Manjoo writes in the Technology section of The New York Times:

Other than Uber, the hypersuccessful granddaddy of on-demand apps, many of these companies have come under stress. Across a variety of on-demand apps, prices are rising, service is declining, business models are shifting, and, in some cases, companies are closing down. Here is what we are witnessing: the end of the on-demand dream. That dream was about price and convenience.

Like Luxe, many of these companies marketed themselves as clever hacks of the existing order. They weren’t just less headache than old-world services, but because they were using phones to eliminate inefficiencies, they argued that they could be cheaper, too — so cheap that as they grew, they could offer luxury-level service at mass-market prices. That just isn’t happening. Though I still use Luxe frequently, it now often feels like just another luxury for people who have more money than time.

But Uber’s success was in many ways unique. For one thing, it was attacking a vulnerable market. In many cities, the taxi business was a customer-unfriendly protectionist racket that artificially inflated prices and cared little about customer service. The opportunity for Uber to become a regular part of people’s lives was huge. People take cars every day, so hook them once and you have repeat customers. Finally, cars are the second-most-expensive things people buy, and the most frequent thing we do with them is park. That monumental inefficiency left Uber ample room to extract a profit even after undercutting what we now pay for cars.

Full article: The Uber Model, It Turns Out, Doesn’t Translate

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Typepad, Get Satisfaction, SInMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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