uber on demand services

by Liz Lauer

Let’s be real: We could all use more time in the day. Between work, significant others, the gym, friends, and more work, our days are increasingly packed with things we absolutely must do, but can’t. How exactly can we get everything done and get our beauty sleep? Enter a slew of “on demand” app-based services trying to ride the “Uber for anything” trend. And while there seems to be a new company entering this space every week, some of them actually are transforming the way many of us live. Here are four favorites that not only make my life a whole lot simpler, easier, and safer, but are also great examples of the “mobile first” direction in which the future is obviously headed.

(Disclaimer: I’m a Millennial living in San Francisco, if you are keeping up with the demographic hype. But while these services largely target us, these views may not reflect those of my peers.)

Lyft/Lyft Line: “A ride whenever you need one”

Friendlier than Uber—and lacking in corporate disfunction— the florescent pink mustaches light the way home with drivers offering riders water and candy. Even better, Lyft Line offers a rideshare opportunity for greatly discounted prices for riders heading in the same direction (see: $5 rides from “hotspots” located in over one hundred places in San Francisco). Lyft wins in my circle of friends for its sheer creativity, pleasant drivers, and casual atmosphere (or party atmosphere if you end up with the “Disco” or “Rave” Lyft as I have; complete with disco balls and glow in the dark bracelets). They especially stand out to me when compared with Uber, which after a string of media revelations (rape, digging up dirt on journalists, privacy issues), was uninstalled from mine and several of my friends’ phones.

Postmates: “On demand delivery”

Admit it: You’ve sat on your couch at home thinking “Damn, I wish my favorite taqueria/ice cream shop/etc. delivered.” Well, problem solved. With Postmates, EVERYTHING delivers. My friends and I have found that Postmates is not just great for grocery delivery, it’s cheaper than competitor Instacart, and will pick up perishables, unlike Google Express. Now, I happen to live within walking distance of several grocery stores, but most of my friends are not so lucky. Lugging groceries back home via Lyft or SFMuni is just not easy, so Postmates helps make those home cooked meals so much simpler -- and without straining shoulder muscles carrying bags up and down steep San Francisco hills.

Washio: “Dry cleaning and laundry delivered”

If you also live in San Francisco, but have a free washer and dryer in unit...we hate you. For the rest of us with quarter-eating machines of questionable cleanliness in creepy basements—may I introduce you to our savior. Registration is quick and easy, and you can set up text reminders for when drivers are in your ‘hood. Pick up is quick and painless, with color-coded bags for dry cleaning, and wash and fold. Drop-off is 24 hours later, with the nicest folded clothing you’ve seen since your mother used to do your laundry. Even though it’s nice not having to run to the bank for quarters, Washio, you still seem to be a bit expensive.

GetAround: “Peer to peer car share, and local car rental”

Living in a city without a car can be difficult, but this is life for almost all of my friends that live in San Francisco. We’ve come to depend on Muni and Lyft to take us short distances, but longer drives still require having full-time access to an auto. However, traditional car rental companies are typically prohibited to the under 25 set. GetAround solves both problems with its peer to peer lending system (another big trend within the millennial generation). Cars range in price (and make!) from cheaper Hondas, Fiats, and Smartcars to high-end Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes. Registration is pretty quick, validated through users’ driver’s licenses, and renting can be done on the go! There’s no membership fee like with Zipcar, and the app makes it simple to rent, unlock, and extend rental time right from your iPhone. Now, escape the city and go do some adventuring!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Saucey: On demand Alcohol Delivery
  • HotelTonight: Delivers just what the name suggests
  • Bloomthat: On demand flower delivery
  • Classpass: No sweat workout booking
  • Zeel: Massage on demand

Personally, I think many of these on demand app services will continue to thrive, but also expect the larger market to become quite flooded with unnecessary, frivolous ones that won’t. Most of them are definitely banking on the assumption that people will become too lazy to walk out their door to do something for themselves. But while we millennials are big consumers, I find myself quantifying extraneous spending—just how far a walk do I want to save myself, and do I really need to send out my laundry? There’s also the location factor to consider: Will these on demand apps only succeed in densely populated, high wealth cities?

It’s also likely the company that will benefit most from the “Uber for everything” trend will be Uber itself, with the company looking to buy or partner with the market’s best on demand services, then integrating them into its own app, effectively killing most of its competition. Because consumers who want it and want it now probably prefer getting everything they want from the same app.

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