Uber massive Black Cab own goal

On Wednesday, @a_little_wine and I were enjoying our lunch in the glorious London sunshine. At least until a long procession of Black Cabs showed up, honking their horns and clogging up Holborn Circus and the surrounding roads. Fellow road users weren’t impressed, a colleague missed their flight because they were stuck in traffic to Heathrow and cyclists were being smug as cyclists always are.

Taxi strike in Holborn. Black Cab drivers need to get a life! #UberTaxisForever

A post shared by William Davies (@just_williamd) on

The following conversation echoed throughout the office all day:

What’s going on with all the cabs?

They’re on strike because of Uber.

They’re on strike because they can’t spell the German word for over?

No. Uber. It’s a mobile app that let’s you book cars to get you around London. It’s really very good and it’s actually quite a lot cheaper than taking a Black Cab.

@tomparker81 and @amyvwilson were too happy to tell us more about something that until that day we’d only heard about in passing. We learnt about  Uber, that it was cheaper than a cab and that it was very easy to use. I learnt that if I sign up using a code, Amy and I would both get £10 off our next ride. I signed up.

Also, as Rory Sutherland so marvellously puts it in (at 42 mins in this clip), human beings hate uncertainty. Uber takes that uncertainty away because you see the car approaching. You know exactly where and when that Uber car is going to show up. There’s no stress. A few taps and your off.

So Uber has many things going for it.

Now. Cabbies (and many other metered taxi drivers around Europe) aren’t complete idiots. They went on strike because they feel that Transport for London should not allow Uber cars to use a meter (which is essentially what the app does) as this is something only Black Cabs are allowed to do. TFL reckons it is something for the courts to decide upon. Unhappy, they decided to make their case heard.

Rather than help the cabbies, the strike has done the exact opposite:

  • it’s generated huge awareness of Uber on all forms of media
  • it’s caused a 850% spike in registrations to Uber
  • it’s pissed off a lot of motorists and people who spent an afternoon stuck in traffic
  • it’s generated more smug cyclists. This is never a good thing

I’m not saying that Cabbies don’t have a point. Rules and regulations for metered cabs should be fair. But as we’ve seen with Polaroid, HMV, Blockbuster, etc – if you ignore the way the customer is going, you’re going to have a bad time.

Google Glass discrimination

The Daily Show reports on the horrible discrimination Google Glass wearers – or Explorers as they prefer to be called – face every day. Harrowing.

The Flying Dutchman

The Internet loves an image based meme. And last night, after van Persie equalised for the Dutch with a glorious diving, looping, deliciously weighted header after a magnificent cross from Blind, the Internet had found new material.

Within hours, the ‘shopped images of RVP began appearing in all kinds of marvellous scenes:

Reuters’ Digital News Report

Reuters’ annual Digital News Report reveals new insights about digital news consumption based on a survey of over 18,000 online news consumers in the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Denmark and Finland.

You can find the full report here, for a TL;DR summary, I give you some bullets:

  • Even though not technically new, mobile its seen as the second disruptive digital revolution creating new links between the audience and news outlets
  • People don’t and don’t want to pay for news but more news outlets are moving to subscription models
  • Although Facebook and Twitter are still the platforms of choice for discovering, sharing and commenting on news events, there are new players entering the game. Also: WhatsApp is a surprising big player in some countries – in India for example it was used to great effect to drive people the polls in the last election
  • Journalists themselves are turning into brands and just (if not more) trusted than the media outlet they work for

Bits and bytes

  • The biggest development in journalism has finally happened: Man bites dog
  • I hesitate to link to anything that bills itself as the ultimate guide to anything, but this guide to mobile social media by Buffer is not only good but also full of practical advice. Kudos!
  • No. A computer did not just beat the Turing Test. We have a bit of time yet until we battle Skynet
  • Scoopshot – the app that let’s you take on photography assignments from The Metro, Evening Standard or the Press Association and sell your work. Even brands such as Finnair are asking passengers to share photos from their flight

Videos of the week

VW in China worked with Ogilvy to create an ad that showed just how dangerous texting and driving can be.  Cinema goers were shown the ad as part of the usual build up of commercials and trailers: a monotonous scene shot from the driver’s perspective of cruising down a country lane, counting on them being bored by the clip. What happens next is very effective – if a bit dramatic.

You’ll have seen this during the first few World Cup games, Nike’s ‘Incredibles’ style animated film about a group of heroic footballers (and Rooney) playing the game of their lives against a team of perfect but predictable footballbots.

Why animate? Well, despite all the playacting on the pitch to get the other guy booked, footballers are actually terrible actors (with the obvious exceptions of Vinnie Jones and Eric Cantona), but also because footballers don’t nearly have enough of a sense of humour to actually agree to take part in this splendid little film.

Remember the Old Spice Guy? Of course you do. Turns out he actually was on a horse.

And finally

Tweets from 1998 (HT @tomparker81)

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