And, in the longer term, urban dwellers will come to regard ownership of a car as a foolish extravagance – realising that the savings in fuel, tax, insurance, depreciation and maintenance would pay for a lot of Uber rides.
Which perhaps explains what the venture capitalists see in the company: one taxi service to rule them all. An Überservice in Nietzschean terms, in which – incidentally – Google happens to have a very large stake .
After all, Uber may one day be able to dispense with those pesky human drivers. And guess who makes driverless cars?
So, imagine what could happen if Google’s project really does bear fruit and also that Uber continues to gain market share around the world. Uber’s largest cost will be that $50k a year that they say drivers are now making part time. Scale that up to the 24/7 that Google’s cars would be able to work and that’s $200k a year and more in costs. Costs that could be stripped out by dumping the meatsacks and using the Google technology. And of course Google’s going to be standing there with a workable technology and looking for someone with the network of customers and the infrastructure to ally demand for rides with supply.
Does that make Uber worth $40 billion? All a bit speculative really but it is at least conceivable that it does.
Not the first time I’ve seen Naughton having similar ideas to those I’ve floated in an El Reg column. But then obviously this is only because we’re both judicious observers of the tech scene. No other connection at all.