The secret to Uber's success: Be everywhere all the time
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Facebook Messenger has an Uber app built right in. If you work in an office, you can grab an Uber from right within Microsoft Outlook, Slack, or Atlassian HipChat. You can call an Uber from Microsoft Windows 10, or price one up via Google Maps.
Not to mention the Uber apps for iPhone and Android.
For comparison, Uber's leading competition Lyft is doing a fair job of it, forming partnerships with companies like Slack and Starbucks while improving its own iPhone and Android apps. But it just can't hang, app for app, with Uber and its wide reach.
It's an underrated factor in Uber's massive success - and another sign of just how aggressive the company is willing to get in its march towards world domination.
We can build it
Building an app and getting into the Apple App Store or Google Play market isn't exactly easy to begin with. You need the time, tools, and talent to bring it from concept to execution.
From there, the work just compounds in on itself.
Adding new features takes considerable effort, from concept to design to engineering. And then you basically have to do the work twice to make sure that they work the same way on iPhone and Android.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty
And that's just the beginning. Given that Apple and Google are the undisputed kings of the smartphone world - the Apple iPhone at the high end and Google Android at the low - there's not a lot of incentive to develop for anyone else's operating system.
This has created a real problem for would-be smartphone competitor Microsoft: It can't sell more Windows phones without more apps, and it can't get developers to make more apps without selling more Windows phones. Indeed, developers have left the Windows Store entirely rather than commit to the energy and expenditure of supporting those apps.
But Uber rushed in where others stayed out, building a super-deluxe app for Windows 10 computers, tablets, and smartphones. In fact, it's the first Uber app for the desktop computer.
Before that, Uber was one of the very few to officially support an app on the older Windows Phone 8.1, even when nobody else cared.
Accelerating matters was this year's release of the Uber API, letting developers work the ability to call a car straight into their own apps. It's not the same kind of work as Uber building maintaining a zillion more apps, obviously, but it also means that Uber has to put the time and effort in to keep developers happy.
So while other startups would love to do what Uber does and release apps for every single operating system and platform out there, each new release is basically committing to a lot of hard work, in perpetuity.
It's neither cheap, nor easy, especially considering the engineering miracles that Uber probably has to perform just to get everything working in the first place. This kind of all-apps-everywhere strategy only historically really works if you're a big, huge tech company like Amazon, Google, or Microsoft, and even then they get gun-shy.
But if you want to make sure your service gets out in as many customers as is humanly possible, it's necessary.
It means that Uber is practically impossible to avoid, no matter what app, operating system, or device you're using. Meanwhile, users have to do more work seek out Lyft or any other upstart who wants to challenge it.
It's just one more way Uber tries to move fast and crowd out the competiton.
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