‘Now Reading’ is a collection and sharing of online stories and is meant for minimal consumption by the few readers of this blog. Topics include books, food, culture, photography, media and technology … there are no rules. Have a story to add? Share it in the comments.
Kevin Roose of New York Magazine has a fascinating post in the mag’s Daily Intelligencer blog about how Uber could become a global giant and possibly more valuable than Facebook.
If you aren’t familiar with Uber, it’s a transportation service that you can call up through an app and have a personal car arrive within minutes and take you where you need to go. It’s particularly useful in places where taxis are hard to find or in particularly high demand. It’s a more efficient business than cabs, and you pay with your credit card, making the process more convenient.
As Roose writes, the majority of people view Uber as a cool car service that has yet to gain traction in compact cities like Manhattan, where yellow cabs serve people just fine. This view misses the grand potential of Uber much like the original notion of Amazon as only a book seller missed the long-term value of what’s become essentially a get-anything digital conglomerate.
Uber’s long-term potential exists in its ability entrench its service in two markets: delivery and ownership. Uber is currently delivering people to places. But, as Roose notes, what’s stopping it from delivering food, clothes and Christmas trees? The infrastructure for delivery is largely in place. At some point, Uber won’t be thought of as a car service but rather a delivery device – a force that gets whatever you need, wherever you need it at a desired time.
The spinoff effect of making it easier for consumers to get what they need when they need it is the realization that it no longer makes sense to buy things you might have limited use for. You buy items for the convenience of being able to use them at once, but what happens when Uber makes that possible? Roose uses the example of grills in his piece. Why buy a grill if you light it up only 10 times in the summer, when you can spend $40 and have Uber drop one off today for your cookout and pick it up tomorrow?
Once those wheels begin to spin, there will be more Uber distributors in deployment, and costs to use the service will decrease. It’s at that point many will ask: Where has this cost-effective and convenient wonder been all along?
Spotify has added Led Zeppelin to its list of music contributors and is beefing up its mobile business after and increasing number of users are using the music streamer strictly on these devices. The company offers varying levels of its service based on whether you’re a paid subscriber or not – if you pay, you can avoid ads and a shuffle feature.
I’m not a big Spotify user – I will use Pandora’s app if I’m on the go somewhere and want a quick few songs to listen to – but I’m interested to see which of these music streaming businesses is the most aggressive in combining personal capabilities with convenience.
For example: There are already features for randomly generate playlists, but what if Spotify (or somebody else) took that to the next level and generated playlists based on emotion? If I’m on my iPhone and call up a Spotify app, I should be able to quickly get a playlist generated by submitting a single word.
‘Party’ would instantly create me a list of songs to entertain a crowd. ‘Exercise’ would give me a playlist to motivate and push me through a workout. ‘Lonely’ would provide warm, endearing songs meant to uplift. And so on. In essence, why can’t we pinpoint music to human emotion and generate playlists accordingly whenever and wherever we want them? I’d pay a nice fee for that.
(If that idea exists out there, point me to it. I’m not aware.)
I don’t really have anything to add to this, but I found Malcolm Gladwell’s response to Tom Scocca calling out Dave Eggers quite thoughtful.
It’s about being nice, which is a rare quality on the Internet.
Interesting piece in the New Yorker from Maria Konnikova on the detriment of hitting the snooze button.
I imagine most people are going to hate this piece, because hitting the snooze button is the best part of their morning, but the science behind what happens to our brain when we jerk it around in the morning is enlightening.
Luckily, I’ve developed an incredible ability to miraculously wake up about 30 seconds before my alarm sounds and shut it off before it does. (I also then get out of bed, you slackers.)
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