Why Uber Should Have Launched in Vancouver First

In the fight of the global cities, it is known that Toronto competes with Chicago and New York to be the center of the universe, Montreal ambitions to be like Paris and London as capital of culture and arts, and Vancouver races with San Francisco and Seattle to be a beacon of all things technology and green.

The Vancouver tech wave tide is rising. Microsoft’s and Amazon will occupy two brand new office towers downtown. Salesforce, Facebook, and Twitter have also being growing their presence on this side of the border.

According to the BCTIA, BC is home for more than 9,000 technology companies and these mostly flock in Vancouver. Vancouver also snitched the fourth spot as North America’s Smartest City behind Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Given this, one should scratch one’s head at why Vancouver is the last large Canadian city into which Uber would launch. Worst, Vancouver is the only city that sent Uber packing. (This was back into 2012, when the provincial regulators categorized Uber’s offering as limousine services and would thus corner Uber’s drivers to offer a minimum $75 fare.)

Limiting Uber to being a limousine service – or just an app – is disconcerting. For drivers, Uber’s algorithms allow optimal asset utilization (no more idle time) and increased safety as customers would have pre-registered their credit cards with Uber.

For riders, it offers a better experience through the features provided by the app itself but also, just as eBay and Airbnb, allowing the prospective customer to review drivers’ ratings and feedback provided by previous customers. And as “what it is measured gets done,” drivers are incentivized to offer the best service they can.

In order to make sure offer meets demand and similar to what is practiced by the airline and hotel industries, Uber also encourages for more drivers in the street when the demand is higher by increasing ride prices. The efficiencies created are a win-win for both drivers and riders. The company also offers services at different premium scales, from low cost UberX to Bimmers and Benzes’s Uber Lux to suit the occasion.

Uber launched in Las Vegas last Friday and now Vancouver might be the, gasp!, number two- or three hundredth-city in which its service will launch.

In May 2012, when TV star Reiko MacKenzie and Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes were showcased as the first riders of their testing phase, it could have been number 26, not far away from Toronto.

Things are different now. The 2013 province prime minister’s elections are not part of the equation and a potential launch will probably be done only after the November Municipal elections. In addition to this, the incumbent taxi companies had a two years head start to build their own app, and they did.

Uber is also becoming more experienced with their launches and the success in creating efficiencies and extremely high customer satisfaction in other cities now speaks for itself.

In a blog early this month, a company spoke person wrote “Vancuber: we can’t stop thinking about you.” After a two year wait, many Techvibes readers are probably thinking the same.