bubble-burst

The Snap IPO is Overrated

Snap Inc, the parent company to Snapchat, debuted on the NYSE on March 2, 2017 to a lot hype and fanfare. The Snap IPO’d at $17 USD a share and quickly jumped to $28. It settled back down this week at $22 a share. The excitement around the stock links to the popularity of Snapchat. It has captured the attention of the elusive 18-24 year old demographic, coveted by advertisers and brands. Snap had $400 million in revenue last year and is projected to have more than a $1 billion dollars in revenue this year which also makes it attractive. Although Snap’s accomplishments are impressive, Snap has some fundamental flaws.

Snap Inc’s business model could be in trouble. That means that the stock prices could be too.

Facebook Duplicated Snapchat’s Differentiators

Snapchat has attractive features: disappearing messages, filters, status updates (a.k.a. Stories), and augmented reality lenses.

Facebook launched stories and filters on Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Disappearing messages also launched on on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp recently. Bye-bye differentiators.

Image courtesy of Techcrunch

 

User growth is key to Snapchat’s future success. While Snapchat has a loyal user base, right now there isn’t a compelling reason for new users to join Snapchat. What’s the point when Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp have similar features?

Snap’s Spectacles May Not Take Off

Snap launched Spectacles at the end of last year to diversify its revenue. While the initial reaction to Spectacles was favourable, the recent interest in the hardware has declined.

Snap Spectacles

In general, the wearables market has proven to be difficult to compete and win in. We’ve seen successful wearable tech companies like Fitbit and GoPro struggle. Snap may be in for a similar uphill battle in the wearable hardware business.

You Can Get More Views on Instagram

In social media, engagement matters just as much as follower growth. When someone posts something to social media they want to see their views, likes, and shares maximized.

A recent Techcrunch article revealed that the average view per snap has been on the steep decline. Content producers have been posting less on Snapchat since the launch of Instagram stories.

Declining users Snap

Declining engagement and slowing user growth is a bad combination for Snapchat as it stands right now.

It seems that Snap is genuinely trying to innovate and build a viable business. I love that. But it’s important not to get caught up in the hype of the Snap IPO. The company still has a lot of work to do. They need to develop a competitive advantage that can’t be duplicated and “sticky” products that keep users engaged.

instagram-stories-ft

Instagram Stories is not Original – but it is Authentic

For everyone up in arms over Instagram’s blatant copy of Snapchat and launch of “Instagram Stories,” the great Jim Jarmusch has three words for you: “nothing is original.” Think about it. Every piece of literature, every work of art, every film, took inspiration from something else. And in Instagram’s defence, it’s not about where you take an idea from; it’s about where you take an idea to.

Just like Snapchat’s story feature, Instagram Stories allow users to click on circular avatars that represent an account they follow on Instagram. Each bubble contains all the photos and videos that person has posted within the past day.

But calm down everyone. It’s actually less important that Instagram implements original ideas. What is important is that they remain authentic to their brand and vision. The question is, what will change with the addition of “Instagram Stories?” And will Instagram be able to implement the changes in an authentic fashion?

For certain, the addition of Instagram Stories marks one huge transition for the platform.

Lowering the Bar for Posting and Sharing Everything

The nature of Instagram is that users post their most glamorous and extravagant shots. It is understood that what you post will be archived, which places a higher standard on the content you post. Due to this high standard, it is common that a user only posts once a week, or once a month. Instagram believes that “Stories” will lower the bar for posting, and encourage users to post more frequently.

With the bar lowered, Instagram users can feel more comfortable posting the fun and wacky moments in their lives. However, while the outrageous content posted on Snapchat seems at home on their platform, content of the same style posted on Instagram could seem foreign and dilute the brand’s authenticity.  What was once a photo app that placed an emphasis on quality posts, is now leaning towards quantity of posts.

Instagram Stories

How will Instagram remain authentic?

Instagram is already retaining authenticity by simply implementing Snapchat’s idea better and using a smoother user interface. The one complaint you hear about Snapchat, especially from older generations, is that it’s difficult to use. Instagram took that confusing experience, and made it clearer and digestible for a wide variety of people. The interface includes clearly labelled buttons, hints, and logic flows. Instead of swiping up, there is a clear “send message” button. Overall, it is an experience that is better, smoother, and more enjoyable than Snapchat. Taking an idea, and making it better in your own way, that is authenticity at its finest.

In the end, it doesn’t seem like Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom is worried about the criticism. Again taking from the words of Jim Jarmusch, he said, don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.” Systrom did just that, admitting that Snapchat deserves all the credit, and that what they were launching wasn’t an original idea.

For Instagram, it seems the first step to attaining authenticity is portraying honesty in their approach. This is a definite breath of fresh air in the tech community. And as long as they continue to create more enjoyable experiences than other services, it doesn’t matter where they take their ideas from.

pokemon-go-in-canada-blog

Pokémon Go in Canada: What a Marketer Needs to Know

If you haven’t heard about the craze that is Pokémon Go, you need to get out from under that rock. The location-based augmented reality game rolled out on iOS and Android in the US, Australia, and New Zealand last week. But when will we get Pokémon Go in Canada?

pokemon-go-screenshots

Screenshots of Pokémon Go

It isn’t officially released in Canada yet, but that isn’t stopping people from playing it. Eager players have been able to get the game on their phones through means other than the App Store or Google Play Store. There are crazy stories all over the web about how people are so wrapped up in the game that they have tripped over things and injured themselves. Why is it such a big deal?

Understanding the Craze of Pokémon Go in Canada

With the game not even out in Canada yet, why are some so motivated to find a way to get it? Why is it causing such an uproar? There are a lot of cool psychological tricks at play:

Nostalgia

Anyone born between the mid-80’s and mid-90’s likely has fond memories of the Pokémon franchise. These now 20- and 30-somethings feel nostalgic when they think back to these good ‘ol times1, and it has a powerful motivating effect. “On a basic level, recalling these positive memories simply puts us in a more positive mood,” says Dr. Filliplo Cordaro of the University of Cologne2. Can you really blame them for wanting to prolong their great mood by playing Pokémon Go a little early?

The Scarcity Effect

Any marketer worth her salt knows that a ‘limited time offer’, ‘exclusive to your region’ or ‘only 2 left’ promo is instantly more enticing to a consumer. This is the scarcity effect and it’s hitting Canadians hard. We are told we can’t have Pokémon Go, and thus Pokémon Go is more desirable. Despite being a digital product that will eventually be free to download, we react because we were never given the opportunity to get it. “People HATE losing opportunities to do things once they think they’re within reach,” notes Jamie Madigan on the subject of the scarcity effect in games3. No wonder people are so motivated to find other ways to get it!

Conformity

If you’ve ever taken a psych 101 course or watched the movie Experimenter, you know the famous studies that exposed how easily we can be influenced to do something if that’s what everyone else is doing. If not, here’s a quick intro to Asch’s famous study: people purposely gave the wrong answer to a question, and then the test subject also gave the same wrong answer in order to fit in with the group4. In the case of Pokémon Go, some people starting downloading the app the unofficial way, which motivates us to think that it’s acceptable behaviour.

How a Marketer Can Take Advantage

Use it to get someone’s attention

Anyone who has gotten swept up in the craze has a radar for anything Pokémon-related. It could be a picture of a Pokémon in your office, or maybe an email subject line like the one that just hit my inbox:

pokemon-go-email

Bonus: the email contained a 25%-off sale on Pokémon merch.

Start planning a Pokémon Go event

Once we get Pokémon Go in Canada there will be opportunities to involve players who are already gathering. Start learning as much as you can about how the game works and check out the points-of-interest that will be in your area.

pokemon-go-event

The community is already starting to hold events!

Insert yourself into a trending topic

If there’s a way you can comment on Pokémon Go with an angle that makes sense for your brand, do it. Being timely and relevant is one of the keys to good content marketing. I mean, you’re reading our blog on the topic… so it works, right?


1. Burton, N., M.D. (2014, November 26). The Meaning of Nostalgia. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201411/the-meaning-nostalgia

2. Madigan, J. (2013, November 06). The Psychology of Video Game Nostalgia. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2013/11/the-psychology-of-video-game-nostalgia/

3. Madigan, J. (2010, May 29). Three Reasons Why We Buy Those Crazy Steam Bundles. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/05/three-reasons-why-we-buy-those-crazy-steam-bundles/

4. McLeod, S. (2008). Asch Experiment. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html

mobile-apps

We’re Skeptical about In-App Advertising

At Stryve , we typically stay away from running campaigns that include any sort of in-app advertising. We’re not entirely convinced as to their effectiveness.  You can show us study after study with metrics saying otherwise, but we’re not really buying into these ads.

Mind you, we do run social ads that sometimes show up in apps. We generally find that mobile ads delivered via Facebook, Twitter and LI are more effective. With respect to advertising in apps via AdMob we’re weary. Here’s why.

The Anecdotal Evidence

Why is this? The first part is based on anecdotal observation.  Our team here doesn’t click on in-app ads. They typically are intrusive and uninspiring. By nature, most forms of advertising are intrusive, but why would you click an ad right before you start playing City2048? Unlike any other medium, apps require a very active, involved experience. Because of this, the ads are even more intrusive. Think it’s just us? Take a survey of your friends. Ask them when was the last time they clicked an in-app ad. Ask them what it was for?

A few weeks ago, I was at a friend’s place grabbing a beer. His lovely 2 year old daughter had her iPad out, playing a kid’s game. I couldn’t help but notice that she was actively closing ads as they popped up. She had even figured out how to restart the app so as to avoid an ad she was not able to immediately close. If a 2-year old is desensitized to in-app ads, how much hope do they have in working on us adults.

The Fat Finger Clicks

I’ll venture to say the ratio of accidental vs. intended clicks I’ve made is somewhere near 10:1. I’m not even exaggerating. Known as fat-finger syndrome, it refers to accidental clicks. Don’t think it is a big deal? A recent report showed that 60% of all mobile app ad clicks were accidental. 60%! I still think this is a low estimate. Google is trying to combat this issue, but it’s still a major problem. How can an advertiser expect to rationalize their investment when 3 out of every 5 clicks is accidental?

The Blatant Fraud

A 2015 study by Forensiq analyzed clicks over a 10-day period. The company observed over 12 million unique devices with “infected” apps. Based on this they estimated an annual loss to advertisers of more than $857 million globally, based on CPMs of $1.00 on Android and Windows Mobile and $1.25 on iOS platforms. The major culprits seem to be app developers themselves. They are aggressively trying to monetize their apps and are stepping into areas of fraud, specifically in the area of mobile device hijacking.

Is anyone clicking this ad?

Is anyone clicking this ad? Can anyone even read it?

The Poor Creative

I’ve seen some bad ads in my life, but in-app ads take the cake. In particular, the banner ads are small and hard to read. It seems that we’ve tried to take legacy banner ad designs and force them into an app environment. Not entirely sure how the ad to the left for Mohawk Racing is expected to drive any level of conversion.

Overall, in-app ad design seems to be lacking in imagination and formats seem to be forced. They are embarrassingly poor creative ad formats.

The Final Verdict

Until in-app ads show a significant improvement in accuracy and creativity, it’s an area that we’re not willing to spend a tremendous amount on.

Marketing Trends (1)

2016 Marketing Trends for B2B Companies

Generally speaking, if something is becoming popular in the B2C market, the B2B market will eventually catch on and use it as well. Here are four marketing trends for B2B businesses to keep an eye on in 2016 and beyond.

Trend 1: Virtual Reality (VR)

Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets went on pre-order sale this past week and sold out in a matter of hours. The popularity, demand, and game-changing potential of VR tech is undeniable.

Digital Marketing Trend: Virtual Reality

B2B applications of VR 

While the virtual reality headsets are primarily for the consumer market and so far have demonstrated mostly video game applications, VR tech could be useful to B2B marketers in a big way in the future.

For example, imagine you’re a factory equipment salesperson: instead of telling a customer about how your equipment works they can put a VR headset on and you can show them how your equipment works on a virtual factory floor. VR headsets could dramatically change the way B2B companies interact with their customers and market their products.

Trend 2:  Instant Messaging (IM)

Instant messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat are the fastest growing technology and behaviour the world has ever seen. It “is arguably one of the greatest opportunities to ever strike business” writes TechCrunch contributor Tom Goodwin. New and exciting changes are being made to IM apps. For example, a Facebook Messenger conversation about a time and place can be turned into an Uber transaction. You don’t even need to leave the Facebook Messenger chat thread to order an Uber.

Messenger Uber

B2B applications of IM 

In the future, B2B conversations could move from the email exchanges to instant messages. New functionality could allow decision makers on the customer side to press one button to accept proposals and make buying decisions within a B2B IM chat the way Facebook is allowing consumers to book Uber rides in the B2C world. Read: no more asking for people “sign the last page of a PDF and send a scanned copy of the PDF back” in order to complete a deal.

Trend 3: Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Many of the largest technology companies in the world such as IBM, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are racing to figure out how artificial intelligence technology can make our lives easier. For example, Facebook M is an artificially intelligent “personal assistant” that exists within Facebook Messenger. In the near future, we’ll be able speak into our mobile devices and verbally tell M to manage personal tasks like cancelling a cable subscription or ordering flowers for a special occasion. Think Siri on steroids.

Facebook M

B2B applications of AI

Artificial intelligence can have an endless amount of applications in the B2B world. We all know what it’s like trying to book a meeting or a phone call with a potential client. It can be a lot of back-and-forth emails trying to find availability in their calendar and yours. AI technology in the future will be able to do this back-and-forth messaging for you by finding times in your prospect’s calendars that are available, sending messages to them on your behalf, and booking the meeting for you. It will be like having your own artificially intelligent personal assistant.

Trend 4: Smartphone Apps

Stats indicate that we’re using apps on our phone more than ever before. Why? Because apps on our smartphones make our lives easier. If you want to order a pizza, ordering through the Domino’s app on your smartphone is a lot easier and more efficient than opening up a web browser, going to Domino’s website, and filling out a form to order the pizza.

Mobile Usage

B2B applications of apps

B2B marketers should be thinking about creating apps that make their customer’s experience with their company easier. For example, suppose you work in the marketing department of an industrial parts supply company: wouldn’t it be great if your customer had the option to open an app and reorder the parts they need without having to call a sales person or go to your company website? Take that a step further and imagine if that app could connect to their inventory management or ordering system. It could all be managed through a phone!

If you don’t believe this is the way your customers will be buying your widgets in the future, just look at how using the Uber app has challenged the act of calling a cab company for a taxi ride. Similarly, the old way of ordering your company’s widgets will be replaced by ordering through a smartphone app.

 

active-brain

More Puzzle Games to Keep Your Brain Active Over the Holidays

Two years back, I wrote about some great mobile puzzle games that can keep you sharp even if you’re not at the office. Well, it’s time for an updated list! This time, I’m not limiting my list to free-to-play games. Some are worth paying for, and if you disagree, feel free to leave me an angry comment (no refunds though, sorry!)

Trainyard

In Trainyard, you lay down tracks to bring coloured trains to their stations. There are plenty of fun colour-combining mechanics and the game leads you through new strategies at a reasonable pace. It’s also great for your creative problem-solving skills, since there are multiple ways to solve the same puzzle. Fun fact: Trainyard was created in Ontario!

It’s available on iTunes and the Google Play Store for $2.99.

Quell

Quell is a relaxing but decently challenging puzzle game. You move a ball through the levels to collect pearls and find hidden gems. With this game, each puzzle has a ‘best solution’ that uses the fewest amount of moves. Can you find the best solution on every level?

Quell Puzzle Game

It is available on iTunes and the Google Play Store for about $2.

Alphabear

If you’re more of a word puzzle type of person, Alphabear is the game for you. It is freakishly adorable and a challenging take on the Scrabble concept. You must put together letters to form words, and different letters have different point values.

It is available on iTunes and the Google Play Store for free!

Threes!

If you’ve tried out one of my favourite games, 2048, the mechanics of Threes! will seem familiar. What makes this game stand apart is how beautifully designed it is and how simple the gameplay is while still being addictively challenging. It’s an easy way to waste away an afternoon.

Threes! Puzzle Game

It is available on iTunes and the Google Play Store for $3. You can also try out the free version or play on your web browser first.

City Lines

This newly trending game is a fresh take on Flow, a game I have recommended before. City Lines takes the simple concept and makes it visually stunning.

It is available for free on the Google Play Store, but keep an eye out for an iTunes release in the next couple of weeks.

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Uber has launched in Kitchener-Waterloo and is free until Sunday

It’s official! As of today, you can use Uber in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge (and we couldn’t be more excited!)

Jesse Spano Uber Excited

Like, #JessieSpanoExcited.

For those of you who are asking “What’s an Uber?” or aren’t totally familiar, here’s what you need to know:

What is Uber?

Uber is a convenient alternative to using taxis. Through the Uber app on your smartphone, you can request to be picked up anywhere in the city by an Uber-certified car that can see your location. Uber drivers use their personal cars to take you to your destination instead of traditional “taxi-style” car. Once the ride is complete, your credit card gets billed automatically, eliminating the cash exchange.

What Makes Uber the Better Choice?

The bottom line is that Uber is less expensive. Fares are up to 25 per cent cheaper than a standard taxi cab. Plus, it’s more efficient, cleaner and safer than taxis. How so? Check out our blog post that gets down to the nitty gritty on why the Waterloo region should embrace Uber.

How Can I Start Using Uber?

All you have to do to get started is download the Uber app from the App StoreGoogle Play, or Windows Store. Blackberry users can request Uber pickups via a web-based browser. From there, it’s as simple as setting up a payment method that the app uses to pay for your Uber rides automatically.

When Can I Start Using Uber in the Waterloo Region?

According to an Uber press release, Uber is live in the Waterloo Region as of 9am today and cars will be available to do pick-ups and drop-offs from 2pm onward. From today until Sunday, riders can each enjoy 4 free Uber rides (up to $20 each) to try the new service.

Kudos to the Waterloo Region

Big congrats to the Waterloo Region for being open-minded and adopting new technology. This is what makes this community Uber-awesome!

periscope-splash

Periscope Could Be The Next Twitter

The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight drew the largest viewing audience in boxing history. Most people watched the fight at a local sports bar or at home and paid the $100 pay-per-view fee to HBO to view the fight.

Suppose you were in an area of the world where you didn’t have access to HBO or TV and only had internet access. Previously you would be out of luck and you couldn’t watch a live sporting event like a boxing match; that is, until now. An app called Periscope has changed the game.

What is Periscope?

Periscope is an app that allows users to watch live-streamed video content that is broadcasted from a person’s smartphone. Basically, imagine setting up your iPhone on a tripod and pointing it at a TV broadcasting the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Your iPhone captures the video from the TV and streams it to the online world via the Periscope app to whoever follows you on Periscope.

periscope-app

I know what you’re thinking: couldn’t we do this before? I mean we already have YouTube right?

The key difference between Periscope video content and YouTube video content is that Periscope is broadcasting video content in real-time and YouTube video content is uploaded content of something that happened in the past.

What does Periscope mean for businesses?

The popularity of Periscope could have big ramifications on the TV industry.  The television broadcasting industry’s business model has been dramatically affected by innovations such DVRs and PVRs. DVRs/PVRs allow people to record their favourite shows and skip the commercials. The more viewers skip commercials, the less likely advertisers will buy ad space on TV networks.

The saviour of TV and cable providers has been live sports.  Consumers like to watch live sports in real-time and will rarely PVR a live sporting event broadcast to skip commercials. But with Periscope, live sports can be broadcast by anyone at the event via a smartphone which would give viewers an option to watch live sports without commercials.

Periscope

Photo Credit: www.geekwire.com

Periscope could be a game changer for the media

About 7 years ago, I was in Toronto sitting at my kitchen table in my condo working on my laptop when I felt what I can best describe as a “powerful wobble”.  I thought to myself, “Was that an earthquake?” To confirm whether it was an earthquake I didn’t turn on the TV to see if the local news was reporting on it, rather, I opened up Twitter and searched “earthquake” to see if anyone else felt the shake.

This anecdote shows us that invention of Twitter was, and still is, a game changer for the media and “citizen journalism”. When a major news event happens, you’re more likely to see citizens writing about a news-worthy event on social media before journalists and traditional media outlets can report on it.

Think about all the news-worthy events which have happened in the past 6-months: the Baltimore protests, police brutality incidents, flood, and major earthquakes among other things. Citizens have the power to write about and take pictures of these events through Twitter, but now they can we can now stream live video of these events from the front lines and gain an audience for this video via Periscope.

Photo Credit: http://vizthink.com/more-about-citizen-journalism/

Photo Credit: http://vizthink.com/more-about-citizen-journalism/

Is Periscope a Trend or Fad?

An estimated 10,000 viewers circumvented the traditional ways to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight by watching the event online via Periscope. More importantly, Periscope saw over 1 million sign-ins during its first 10 days of existence and was a top 10 ranked app on App Annie as of the beginning of May. This makes it clear that Periscope is more of a trend than a fad. Furthermore, Periscope is an app to keep your eye on since it has the potential of being a game changer in content production and distribution.

mobilegeddon

3 Simple Steps to Avoid a Mobilegeddon Meltdown

Mobilegeddon is here and no one died but your website traffic may have suffered. Although the April 21st Google algorithm change hasn’t destroyed businesses yet, you still need to get your site mobile-optimized. Why’s this important? A study done by Clickz in January of this year, showed that 48 percent of traffic to Google was generated through mobile devices. Almost 1/2 of all web visitors are now originating through a mobile device. On top of that, a mobile site can increase sales, generate more traffic, and boost customer engagement. If you want to keep your website traffic intact, you’ll need to have a mobile-friendly website.

But have no fear, it’s not as complicated or costly as you think. Here are a few simple steps to get your site mobile-friendly.

Step #1: Test Your Site For Mobile-Friendliness

Go to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Page. Pop in your URL. Voila! You’ll see if your website is Mobile Friendly.

Also, do a PageSpeed Insights test. It will tell you if your site is too slow for mobile.

Results from testing our homepage

Results from testing our homepage

Step #2: Identify the Right Fix

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights detail your site’s issues, and there are a few options available to address them.

Scenario #1: Your Site Requires a Minor Tune-Up

Your website may be close to being mobile-friendly. You may only need a few fixes. From moving a button to increasing the font size, the changes may be minimal.

Scenario #2: Your Site Needs an Overhaul

Your site may require responsive programming or a separate mobile website. Whatever the case, in this instance it is important to utilize a web design and development team to optimize your website.

Step #3: Invest in a Mobile-Friendly Website

Don’t cheap out. If your storefront, office building or product could only serve half of your customers would you blink an eye at investing in changes? It shouldn’t even be a major cost for your business.

If you’re looking for a team of experts to get optimized, get in touch with our team at Stryve. We’ll get your site optimized in no time. If it’s not us, call someone else. Just get going. Your business depends on it.

uber-in-kitchener-waterloo

Kitchener-Waterloo should have Uber, here’s why

There’s been a healthy amount of media coverage regarding Uber coming to Kitchener-Waterloo in the past week. Some organizations in the Waterloo Region are expressing resistance because they deem Uber to be unsafe or threatening to the job security of conventional taxi drivers.

I just got back from a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area where Uber originated and is widely used. While I was there I used Uber or Lyft (an Uber competitor) at least 10 times and got a firsthand perspective on how well it works. After using and researching Uber and Lyft, I have to say the concerns expressed in the local media about Uber are flimsy at best.

Here are eight reasons why Uber in Kitchener-Waterloo is great not just for the user but also for positioning our region as a forward-thinking community.

#1: Uber is easy to use and more efficient

All I needed to do to get started using Uber is to download the app, create a passenger profile with my picture, cell phone number and my credit card info. It takes two minutes to do. When I needed a ride, I touched the “Set Pick Up Location” button in the Uber app. The app located Uber drivers in the area and automatically matched and dispatched a car to my exact location. I could see the Uber car on a map on my phone and it showed me if the car is “1 min away” or “2 mins away”. When the car was at my location ready to pick me up, I got a message saying “Your Uber driver Simon is here”. I hopped in the car, got dropped off at my destination, and my credit card got charged for the ride. No cash is exchanged. The whole process was a lot easier and more efficient than calling or trying to hail a conventional cab.

uber-app

#2: Uber is just as safe, if not SAFER than a conventional cab

At no point did I feel unsafe in an Uber car when I was in San Francisco. Uber’s required background checks (in Canada, RCMP and local records) and screening process are more rigorous than those of municipal taxi and limo services. They do a thorough review of motor vehicle records and an inspection of the vehicle. I’d argue it’s safer to be in an Uber car because everything is tracked from the ride route via GPS to driver and customer profiles. Plus, each ride is backed by $5 million in contingency auto liability insurance. A conventional taxi is basically still an anonymous transaction that’s mostly cash-based.

This whole process is safer for the driver as well. Since the driver is not carrying any cash, any incentive a criminal would have to rob a driver is eliminated.

2 uber-app-screenshot-3

#3: Uber is faster

Have you ever been in a conventional taxi and the taxi driver unfortunately isn’t familiar with the location of the place you’re heading to, and to make matters worse, they don’t have a GPS? This problem never happens in an Uber car. All the drivers have your destination address automatically loaded into their smartphone’s GPS on their car’s dashboard which will show them the step-by-step directions to take the shortest route to the destination. The directions will even tell them how to avoid traffic delays.

3 uber-navigation

#4: Uber is more convenient

Have you ever stood at the side of the road trying to wave down a taxi cab only to have cab after cab just drive by without picking you up? Have you ever called a cab company’s phone number only to get a busy signal again and again? Let’s say you’re at a friend’s place or a restaurant. Have you ever had to try to explain to a taxi dispatcher where you are when you don’t know the exact address off hand?

You’ll never have this problem with Uber since the pickup request is done through the GPS-enabled app on your smartphone.

#5: Uber is cheaper

Uber and Lyft have innovated their service and now offer an in-app feature called UberPool and Lyft Line.

Basically you can get anywhere in a city (we’re talking 30-35 minute drive somewhere in San Francisco sometimes) for a $5 flat fee using UberPool or Lyft Line. When you select the UberPool or Lyft Line option in the app, you’re telling them that you’re willing to share your ride with someone else who’s on the way to your final destination. Fifty percent of the time you don’t end up sharing the car with anyone. The other fifty percent of the time you share the car with someone talkative and interesting and it’s actually a cool way to make the ride seem shorter. Either way your entire ride is a $5 flat fee.

4 UberPool-Trip2

#6: Uber is cleaner

All the Uber or Lyft cars I’ve been in have been clean, well-kept and up to date. Uber and Lyft’s car presentation standards are higher than conventional taxis.

Additionally, once your Uber or Lyft ride is complete, you get a message on your smartphone via the Uber and Lyft app to rate your ride from 1-star to 5-stars. Uber and Lyft drivers are incentivized to get “5 star” rating from their passengers once the ride is complete. I’ve seen Uber and Lyft drivers go to endearing effort to get a 5-star rating. Uber and Lyft drivers are very friendly, professional, and some even have individually wrapped mints and gum for their passengers in their cars.

5 rate ride

#7: Uber will not put taxi drivers out of work

Some are arguing that many hardworking taxi drivers could be put out of business because of Uber or Lyft. Here’s the counter-point to that: will there be any less people requiring taxi service in a city if Uber and Lyft come to that city? No. Can a conventional taxi driver become an Uber driver? Yes. If consumers are preferring Uber rides over conventional taxis, then a taxi driver should switch to become an Uber driver. Plus, the driver could stand to make more money being an Uber driver.

#8: Forward-thinking communities have embraced Uber

Leading cities in technology and innovation such as Austin, San Francisco and Boston have all shown the fastest Uber adoption rates.

There’s evidence that Uber and Lyft are the future of the way people will use taxi services. If Kitchener-Waterloo is the “Silicon Valley of the North” we have to be open to integrating new ideas the way other tech-centric cities have.

Closing thought

Considering all the benefits listed above, I asked someone in San Francisco, “Why would anyone still use conventional taxis?” Her reply, “I guess the people who still use conventional taxis are old-school and resistant to change”. I couldn’t agree more.

Kitchener-Waterloo, we have to ask ourselves the question: do we want to be considered an old school community and resistance to change or do we want to be a community open to innovation and integrating better and smarter solutions?