Uber continues to be a tech journalists dream, with articles covering how it is starting to be hacked, how it is building a cool new headquarters, and launching in South Korea, Mexico, and Nigeria. There’s even a story of how they made is possible to use Uber on your Apple Watch, or if you are hard of hearing. The point about this is not just to recycle their PR output. Uber is a really interesting company. They don’t own any cars, but they are disrupting the transportation business. It costs less than most taxis, it is more effective than most public transportation systems, and it works really well on your phone. This model of sourcing services could well be a new paradigm for all of us. There is an Uber for doctors, offering medics to come to your door. There’s florists, masseuses, valets and personal shoppers, and that could just be the start. On-demand services rely on low-wage contractors (at least until Uber builds autonomous vehicles, to compete with Google and Tesla), and a user mentality that prioritises convenience over doing a task yourself. Both of those trends are already in evidence here in the UK, though even London is not moving at the same pace as San Francisco or New York.
Another slightly more conventional mobile disruptor is Snapchat. It made the news recently with colossal user figures. 100m daily users, and nearly 9,000 snaps a second. This behaviour was enough for the CEO of Vodafone to talk about the data consumption on an earnings call, saying 75% of social networking data traffic on Vodafone’s UK network is due to Snapchat. As it continues to develop a differentiated ad/monetisation strategy, the app will be one to start thinking about for younger audiences.
On a lighter note, gifs are coming to Facebook. Depending on your friends, expect your newsfeed to be bombarded with looping nonsense for a while until their algorithm mutes all the noise.
And lastly, here are 196 slides of data-packed forecasting from Mary Meeker, giving a US-centred but eminently quotable view of the digital world in the next few years.