I'm still recovering from a ruptured achilles. During the first 3 months of my recovery, Uber became a life-saver. I was in a walking boot and could not drive myself anywhere. My wife took over duties dropping off and picking up our girls from school, so I took Uber to work on most days to lighten the load a bit.
I cringe to think about what that time would have been like if I had to rely on public transportation or a private taxi service. Uber's legal issues with strong opposition from the taxi and limousine industry are well covered in online media sources. I read this article the other day and this one quote stuck out to me:
a catastrophe is unfolding, as an entire industry continues to be illegally destroyed, while elected officials allow it to happen on their watch
A catastrophe? Really? It's sort of like lawyers for the record labels claiming that the internet is destroying an industry. No. A subpar product that is overpriced and does not fulfill the value expected by the consumer is what destroying the industry.
When I moved to Central New Jersey with my girlfriend (now wife) in the Fall of 2002, we had no car and about $450 dollars to our name. We had to take a taxi to the grocery store for weeks until we saved up enough money to ship her car from California.
The process of requesting a taxi was a nightmare filled with inconsistent arrival estimates, long pickup times, and overpriced fares. The grocery store was about 5 miles away, and the round trip took about 2.5-3 hours with only about 1 hour 15 minutes used for actual shopping. A typical round trip cost us $55-60 in taxi fares.
With Uber, I spent about the same amount for 5 one-way trips to work for an entire week with none of the hassle or uncertainty of when my ride would arrive.
I'm not an investor in Uber, but I'm cheering them on as a satisfied customer in every barrier to entry that they face.
Please note that this is written from a customer's point of view and without regard to some of the business practices and cultural issues at Uber that have been highlighted by the media. To that end, I cheer for all companies that are challenging the status quo and providing a better service or product to customers.