Uber Without the Smartphone

Issue 07-16-17   |   Reviewer:   Angelina I. T. Kiser, Ph.D.


Bob Carr set out to find a way to help seniors use Uber without the use of a smartphone. He started Common Courtesy Inc., a small nonprofit, to work around the app's software limits, allowing users to create multiple Uber accounts to book rides for other people. Uber sent five engineers to study Common Courtesy and similar ventures, and then built the one-phone multiple-rides workaround, called Uber Central, directly into its app.

Uber Central went live in late April, and Common Courtesy was among the first groups to test it. On the other hand, the Carrs booked about 2,400 rides in June. They charge a $3 fee on each ride they coordinate, and their plan is to cover their costs through higher volume. Vying for the senior citizen market share gives Uber an opportunity to increase sales as it struggles to turn a profit.

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