Uber shook the taxicab industry with the introduction of a user-friendly digital platform that connects contracted drivers with passengers. The app created an experience that penetrated markets in 400 cities, completing over 2 Billion rides worldwide.
A common expression being tossed around in the digital sphere these days is the term Uberization, which marks the introduction of a disruptive digital platform or solution that completely redefines its market. If consumers become hooked on the simplicity of a certain feature, or the value of another, then they begin to expect and demand similar features in every other app they are using, regardless of the industry. This creates an environment where the digital product owner can never fully rest. They now have to keep up with an unprecedented type of cross-industry competition. Uberization is change, constant change coming from all directions.
If there is one thing this digital phenomenon has proven, it is that no industry is untouchable and no company is safe, not even Uber. Another California based ridesharing service called Lyft disrupted the ridesharing industry with its introduction of a carpooling service it called Lyft Line. The ability to share rides with other passengers going in the same direction was offered in addition to Lyft’s primary sole rider option. This added feature had the potential to Uberize Uber! The introduction of cheaper commutes and on-the-spot carpooling services situated ridesharing as a possible alternative to car ownership.
Within a month of Lyft Line’s release Uber decided to launch its own version of a carpooling service it called UberPool. Ubers’ quick response to Lyft’s threat displays a solid understanding of its customers’ inertial preference to remain loyal to the app, but their willingness and ability to switch to a competing service if their expectations are not instantaneously satisfied. Uber’s response time avoided the wreckage that would have come with digital disruption. Other companies can too, as long as they keep their eyes on the evolution of the entire digital industry and not simply the narrow view of their own market.