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Uber threatens to shut down price-comparison app

Discussion in 'News' started by Jo3030, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Jo3030

    Jo3030 Moderator Moderator

    Washington DC
    Uber threatens to shut down price-comparison app
    San Francisco Chronicle by Carolyn Said, July 10, 2017

    What’s cheapest for a trip: Lyft, Uber, taxis or another ride service?

    Several apps and websites let passengers compare fares. Some calculate estimates based on published rates; others tap directly into the services of Uber and Lyft through technology called an application programming interface that those companies offer to developers for free.

    But Uber and Lyft don’t want their technology used to compare them with rivals — and both spell that out in the fine print for developers. That’s stirred debate about whether they’re engaging in monopolistic practices, or have every right to set parameters for the use of their technology.

    Now, a small Oakland company with an app called Ride Fair that compares Uber and Lyft surge pricing says Uber is trying to shut it down by removing its access to the API. Last year, Uber shut down a similar app called UrbanHail by yanking its API use.

    “Since it seems the main purpose of your app is price comparison, there isn’t really a good way for you to come into compliance,” Uber wrote in a letter to Ride Fair. “We have to ask you to immediately discontinue using our API for this purpose and listing Uber in your marketing materials and app store listing. Essentially you need to remove Uber from your app.”

    Ride Fair developer Phil Wall was chagrined to receive that email six months after releasing the app, which has a modest 3,000 or so downloads. He and business partner Steve Blackwell built the free app as a public service and don’t make money from it, he said.

    “This in no way is impacting Uber’s business, but they’re acting like bullies to mess with small developers,” he said. “It seems totally weird to make a public API and then use access to it as a weapon.”

    Uber said it’s well within its rights to determine how its technology is used, pointing out that developers know its conditions, such as not comingling its prices with those of competitors, up front.

    “Like many other technology companies, our API has a few guardrails in order to preserve the integrity of the Uber experience for users across all apps,” Uber said.

    Lyft declined to comment. Developers said it has been laissez-faire about access to its API, although in 2013 it asked a comparison app called Corral Rides to remove Lyft data, according to Fortune. It has not complained to Ride Fair, according to Wall.

    Like other companies, Uber offers its API to build its business, allowing developers to create apps that summon rides or add features to enhance riders’ experiences. That includes, for example, integration with the Spotify or Pandora music services, according to Chris Messina, who until January was Uber’s developer experience lead but emphasized that he does not speak for it. “Uber does not make an API just for charity,” he said.

    At the same time, he said, “there was always a debate inside the company about how to best balance Uber’s interest and the developer ecosystem’s interest.”

    Uber does allow Google Maps to display ride prices for Uber and Lyft for any given route. While Google doesn’t release user numbers, Maps obviously has enormous market share. Messina said Uber and Google negotiated a higher-level deal that encompasses other things, such as Uber using Google Maps.

    Ben Edelman, a lawyer and professor at Harvard Business School, said he thinks Uber and Lyft’s barring of price-comparison apps is “an obnoxious restriction” that raises monopoly concerns.

    “Comparison shopping is the bedrock of capitalism,” he said. “Let consumers look at all the options in the marketplace, think about them and make an informed decision.”

    Edelman said he could see a scenario in which public-advocacy lawyers could challenge the provisions in court as contrary to the public interest.

    Besides Google Maps, several other sites and apps offer Uber and Lyft price comparisons.

    Kendall Saville said his FareEstimate site averages around 25,000 users a month. It uses both Uber and Lyft APIs, but he hasn’t heard any objections from Uber. “Lyft has actually reached out to see how I use the API and if there was anything they can do to improve it for me, which I thought was nice,” he said in an email.

    Saville thinks sites like his help consumers by allowing them to make more informed decisions. “Before my website, I constantly compared routes by manually checking both apps,” he said. “So I believe it's going to happen even if Uber cuts our API access.”

    Another site, RideGuru, which has over 1 million users a month, generates price estimates for Uber, Lyft and a range of other ride-hailing services worldwide through proprietary algorithms, rather than the companies’ APIs, said CEO and founder Ippei Takahashi.

    That approach means RideGuru can show prices for companies that may not even offer APIs, he said. “We are in a unique position here, because we can be the true aggregator and a comparison site, covering the smallest to the largest players in the market.”

    Meanwhile, Uber has not yet followed through on its threat to yank Ride Fair’s API access, Wall said.

    “Users really like to be able to push a button and see prices,” he said. “I believe in price transparency.”
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2017
  2. Oscar Levant

    Oscar Levant Well-Known Member

    And all this time I thought Travis and Co were libertarians, turns out they are oligarchs.
    koyotemohn, Rakos, K girl 213 and 3 others like this.
  3. everythingsuber

    everythingsuber Well-Known Member

    Competition is for idiots. Uber is quite aware of that.
    JasonB, Jagent and tohunt4me like this.
  4. Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Well-Known Member

    Lol crazy how they went from "were the little guy going against the big bad taxi companies... they should have competition!"... to "if you dare show we charge more than anyone we will shut you down"......
    Cigars, Tihstae and tohunt4me like this.
  5. uberdriverfornow

    uberdriverfornow Well-Known Member

    This might be better than we think since it will cause attention to the fact that Uber and Lyft could indeed already be colluding. Perhaps an investigation into their practices could result from this.

  6. Mars Troll Number 4

    Mars Troll Number 4 Well-Known Member

    Price matching is collusion in a sense, very hard/impossible to prove collusion with nothing to go on but price matching.
  7. tohunt4me

    tohunt4me Well-Known Member

    new orleans , la.
    So much swept under the rug.

    A bigger rug is needed.

    Attached Files:

    Disgusted Driver likes this.
  8. effortx2

    effortx2 Active Member

    I predict that other countries will eventually force Uber/Lyft and all of the gig companies to each make an API that is public and free (in those countries) for exactly such purposes as price comparison.
    tohunt4me likes this.

  9. tohunt4me

    tohunt4me Well-Known Member

    new orleans , la.
    Antitrust. . . .
  10. effortx2

    effortx2 Active Member

    There's an article somewhere else on this forum called "investigating the algorithms that govern our lives" -- eventually the influence of algorithms will be too great to ignore and the mistrust to immense. People will demand action...so I think there will be an investigation into the algorithms, but possibly in the end the need for businesses to hide their trade secrets may win out and APIs will be the compromise, or maybe there will be no such compromise and APIs will just be part of the settlement to ensure these gig economies don't find a way to decimate the non-gig economies.

    All in other countries, of course - the government here is too easily bought off and the genetic predisposition to Stockholm Syndrome too pervasive among the populace.
    K girl 213 and tohunt4me like this.
  11. tohunt4me

    tohunt4me Well-Known Member

    new orleans , la.
    Research the Government Nudge Initiative.
    The Brain study initiative.
    The sheer Number of Corporate and Government " Think Tanks" in the D.C. area alone.
    Algorithm is just another straw upon our backs

    Free Will
    The Random.
    They are yours.
    From Birth.
    Use Them.

    Armies of paid professionals group and gather to promote bending you to the will of their masters .

    Yet we are always just beyond their grasp throughout the millenia.

    A mans spirit is Unfathomable.
  12. effortx2

    effortx2 Active Member

    No, they've pretty much taken over.

    For the conceivable future, the U.S. will be based on ultra-short-term thinking, the "hook upz" economy, and extreme gaslighting (mostly algorithmic).
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  13. tohunt4me

    tohunt4me Well-Known Member

    new orleans , la.
    Walk off to another game.

    Bitcoin not owned by Globalist Bankers.

    Non " Centralized Banking".

    It CAN happen.

    It HAS happened.
    JasonB likes this.
  14. effortx2

    effortx2 Active Member

    Bitcoin was fine until people started thinking of it almost exclusively in terms of dollar amounts, then it was pretty much over at that point. In a lot of ways it was over before it began. They're now allowing bitcoin options trading - this should have happened a lot sooner simply because it was so dreaded and inevitable; there was no need to drag all of this out.

    Unfortunately these virtual currencies are no panacea, and were never intended to be...they are utopian in vision and, as everyone knows, over time every utopia is fatally flawed and that ends up bringing it down.
  15. JasonB

    JasonB Well-Known Member

    San Diego
    This is what happens when you base your entire business model
    around someone else's business.

    They can close down at any point, or ask you to close down and you
    are SOL.
    tohunt4me likes this.
  16. UberLaLa

    UberLaLa Well-Known Member

    LaLa Land
    They can Eat Cake
    tohunt4me likes this.

  17. Strange Fruit

    Strange Fruit Well-Known Member

    San Francisco
    It's an app that simply saves u the time of opening both Lyft and Uber apps to check the price. Uber is worried that the 3000 people who downloaded that app will save a few seconds by not needing to open both apps, which many people do.:rolleyes:
    And silicon valley big shots will continue to be admired by the other apes.
    tohunt4me likes this.
  18. thepanttherlady

    thepanttherlady Well-Known Member

    Orange County, CA
    "preserve the integrity of the Uber" :D:D:D
    tohunt4me and UberLaLa like this.
  19. Rakos

    Rakos Well-Known Member

    Tampa Bay
    Uber was supposed to be the Utopia...

    Of the ride sharing business...

    Someone ALWAYS figures out a way...

    To ruin a Utopian vision...

    That's why sooner or later...

    I always resort to throwing poo...

    Got to relieve the stress somehow...8)

    tohunt4me likes this.
  20. tohunt4me

    tohunt4me Well-Known Member

    new orleans , la.
    At least Your poo fertilizes the bannannas !
    Ubers slinging kills .

    Attached Files:

    Rakos likes this.

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