“The subsequent a whole lot of thousands and thousands of riders for us are going to come back from exterior of the US”, Uber’s head of rider expertise Peter Deng tells me. The transportation big already sees 75 million riders per thirty days and 15 million rides per day. However to develop within the growing world, it needed to rethink its app to work on the oldest telephones and slowest networks. So Deng’s crew traveled the globe asking folks what they wanted from Uber, but in addition what they didn’t.
The result’s Uber Lite.
It’s launching today in India earlier than rolling out to extra international locations, although there’s still a waitlist form as a substitute of a obtain hyperlink. The Android app takes up simply 5 megabytes. “You delete three selfies, you may have room for Uber” Deng laughs. 300-millisecond response time means its fast to hail a experience, even for the four p.c of customers in India on sluggish 2G networks. And by streamlining the design and solely displaying maps by request, it gained’t burn a lot knowledge for customers on a funds.
Uber wants to attain progress in growing markets after retreating whereas slicing offers with native winner like Didi in China, Seize in Southeast Asia, and a forthcoming association with Yandex in Russia. India’s Ola rideshare service already has a ‘Lite” app that’s simply 1 megabyte and a 45% share of the taxi market, in comparison with Uber’s 35%. Uber has reported has talked with Ola a couple of potential merger in India, sources have instructed TechCrunch and others. With the nation making up 10% of Uber’s rides, it’s a market it could possibly’t forfeit.
To achieve its full potential, Uber has to start out out-competing homegrown rivals. Success with Uber Lite may give it leverage with Ola and path to gaining extra of it all over the world.
“We all know we’re not only a U.S. firm, we’re a world firm. Not solely have we constructed this for the world, it was in-built India” Deng tells me. Deng got here to Uber in March 2017 after 10 years at Fb’s numerous corporations. It was early to the “Lite” concept, with its shrunken app reaching over 200 million customers.
However Deng says Uber Lite didn’t come from stripping down the primary app, however constructing it up from scratch. “The crew has traveled to markets all over the world to do in dwelling interviews to know the wants of the purchasers.”
In comparison with the 181 megabyte normal model, Uber Lite is quite a bit simpler for low-storage telephones to deal with. Uber Lite launches to not a map or a textual content entry field, however as a substitute a instructed close by enterprise or landmark based mostly in your GPS. “It’s important to do much less typing and may do extra tapping” Deng explains. It additionally tries to guess your vacation spot based mostly on pre-cached widespread metropolis spots. You possibly can enter addresses, however Uber Lite gained’t load a data-heavy map except you purposefully seize for it. ‘Faucet for map’.
Identical goes to your driver’s ETA. After you’ve chosen your car sort and hailed, you’ll simply get a countdown to their arrival except you faucet to see them on their approach. Cost for now’s money solely. However quickly Uber plans so as to add India’s widespread Paytm cost platform and bank card choices. It’s additionally nonetheless missing notifications, which appear well worth the knowledge. Extra languages will come too.
Uber wouldn’t clarify how, but it surely additionally revealed that it plans to supply offline hailing, presumably by way of some peer-to-peer Bluetooth mesh community or different expertise. One different fascinating check its working in India lets customers punch in a code discovered at a bus cease to immediately hail a experience there. One other lets older or much less telephone savvy customers telephone in to an accessibility crew that may hail a experience for them. It’s already provided web bookings. “The entire constitution is to permit everybody all over the world to expertise Uber” Deng says.
What Uber wouldn’t skip in v1 was the in-app assist and a approach to share your ETA with family members to allow them to be careful for you. “We knew how essential security was in these markets. I’m actually proud we took extra steps to empathize” Deng says.
The corporate is clearly making an attempt to place the darker moments of its previous behind it. Whereas cynics would possibly take the compassion speak as simply lip service like the corporate’s large apology advert marketing campaign, it’s additionally the rationale some tech expertise has stayed at or joined Uber. If the corporate goes to be unavoidable, making it safe and accessible is a fairly good cause to get up within the morning.