Interesting article from @AndyPemberton of Furthr about seeing Uber as a lesson in the damaging power of disruption. In a nutshell he calls out its disruptive business saying you can't go around breaking the rules others have adhered to - it's just not fair competition. He likens it to Napster's approach which was grounded in illegality and was therefore forced to close. Lucky for us we now have Spotify and iTunes and it's all perfectly within copyright law.
But therein lies the rub. Spotify didn't exist when Napster was operating. Consumers signed up to subscription based music steaming services after the Napster fall-out, where lessons were learned, deals with record companies were made and that then became the viable and attractive option.
Uber still exists. And there are already other taxi apps out there that have operated more within 'the rules' than Uber. But is anyone abandoning Uber in droves to do 'the right thing'? Does anyone care enough to ditch Uber completely?
Don't get me wrong, we should care. But at midnight on a Thursday night when you've had a few and you check Uber and see you can be on your way home in 3 minutes for a decent fare, taking the moral higher ground takes a firm back seat to the fast Uber service, complete with bottle of water to ease the onset of your hangover.
Whilst consumers may disagree with Uber's politics and internal policies, at crunch time people just want to get where they're going easily, quickly and conveniently. And Uber does that better than anyone right now.
So while we may indeed see the demise of Uber at some point, it won't be down to consumers rising up en masse and abandoning it any time soon.
Older readers will recall Napster. The company’s brilliant innovations could never undo the intellectual property theft at the core of its business. The service was forced to close, but now we have iTunes, Pandora and Spotify – businesses that keep what was great about Napster while operating within copyright law. And before you say "who cares?", know that this isn’t just about your Spotify playlist or cab ride home. The New York Times has called the battle between Uber and London cabbies "less about the disruptive power of an app, or a new business model, than about the disruption of Britain". Uber and Napster provide a lesson in digital disruption. They show how the rule-breaking allowed by technology cannot be a licence to destroy the livelihoods of those who adhere to the rules.