Monthly Archives: June 2014

Uber vs the Taxi Monopoly in Europe

croissantI’ve rambled about this before, but today was especially fun. Thanks to the medallion buying taxi drivers stopping for their croissants on French highways, Paris and it’s suburbs saw 300 kilometers of traffic jams. This is what’s known in French as a vrai bordel. In classic French fashion, strikers brought Paris to a standstill, and the evening news brought images of caffeinated taxi drivers trying to block even the scooters and motorcycles from passing their automotive barricades. (Cue la marseillaise…)

According to The Independent, Uber in the UK saw an 850% increase in demand today. Can you chuckle on a blog? I would love to know what the increase was in Paris, but that little fact is unlikely to be reported here. So I wanted to write a little note to all the taxi drivers that read my blog.

Dear Taxi Driver,

I feel your pain. Driving in Paris sucks.

Competition is unfair, you’re job is left unprotected, and it’s obvious that uncontrolled mayhem will break out if exagerated fares aren’t kept solidly above market levels. But dear sir, I humbly wonder whether Uber riders simply can’t afford your services? They’d be taking the train if Uber wasn’t there for them, not your taxi, so maybe it’s the SNCF that should be striking. (Oh sorry, yes, they were, but for other reasons.)

I love paying 60 Euros to get to Charles de Gaulle by car, and then only 35  to get to Gatwick by plane. I’m happy to do my part… And it’s a pleasure to pass 2 hours in the back of your polished Prius, admittedly I have more leg-room than on EZJet, but I’m also paying more.

Good luck with your show of force, but I for one, believe that if Uber (and it’s technology) can offer better service, at a lower fare, while at the same time reducing the smog in Paris, your days are numbered.

Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l’assurance de mes sentiments respectueux.

Apple WWDC – The Mystery

Apple NewtonApple does a lot of things right, especially since Mr. Jobs righted the ship. Yet it still boggles my mind that each and every year the announcements from Apple’s WWDC make front page news around the world. The New York Times, CNN, and every major media outlet fall over themselves regurgitating the key-note ‘announcements’. Does this surprise only me? Hello? It’s a campaign rally…

Possibly, it touches a nerve, I participated in the early conferences, when Newton was released, for example, or NEXT was all the saving rage. I remember clearly the circus-like atmosphere Apple produced for its developers, we were chomping at the bit (16 at the time) for a multi-threaded operating system. Maybe the NEXT OS was finally something that would play well with Windows, and we could finally sell something. Windows was eating Apple’s lunch, everywhere, and as an Apple faithful, the future always seemed just out-of-reach. At the time our sect was a self-contained band of developers, and a small group of passionate users. The faithful have since taken on Tea-Party or Green Bay Packer type proportions, thanks to the iPhonePadGadgetMac. Crafty, very crafty.

I’ve come to realise that what the press should be watching (or listening to), isn’t what Apple has to say, but how Apple chooses to say it. Like any good politician,  their basic strategy has worked for decades, they’ve mastered generating buzz. It may seem relatively ‘recent’, but they’ve been perfecting buzz-craft since the inception of the first Mac. Apple has been setting the WWDC as a target each year, not just for the press and the developers, but for each and every employee at Apple. On one hand, I can’t think of a more manipulative use of smoke and mirrors, yet on the other, imagine how this must focus attention from the inside of Apple. Everyone is ALWAYS working for THIS conference, every single employee works to contribute to the success of this conference.

Can you think of another company that has such focus? I can’t.

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