By Chris Messina
In 2007, Steve Jobs proclaimed that a phone with a glass face, always-on connectivity, and a battery that lasted a full day before needing to be charged defined mobile. He heralded the next revolution of the personal computer.
That revolution has ended. The “mobile first” mantra can be retired; it should now be assumed. This offers us an opportunity to revisit what “mobile” means to us.
New-era mobile is about meeting people where they are, on the go: connected, in motion, synced to the cloud, and continuously switching contexts. Designing products for mobility must emphasize adaptability. Great apps and services compose and decompose themselves to fit the user’s context — enhancing the freedom to work or play at home, in the office, at school, a cafe, in the park, or in transit between these places. Great apps and services support continuous partial productivity — getting things done even when the user’s entire focus can’t be devoted to their task.
Developers are building services that seamlessly flow between platforms. Services which can morph from full-bodied apps into svelte chat bots, then pop up on the desktop or be triggered by human voice. At Uber we’re working hard at this ourselves, for example, by building Uber into Facebook Messenger or enabling Alexa with the skill to call an Uber. The benefit isn’t just in the distribution we get from these additional platforms — it’s how we can deliver unexpectedly magical user experiences by fitting into specific life contexts. Suddenly making spontaneous plans with friends or getting a ride to go out for a night on the town doesn’t feel so cumbersome.
We see even more opportunities in designing for people in motion: once you’ve requested an Uber, how should services adapt themselves to the time you spend in transit? Imagine arriving at your hotel and being greeted by name, or opening your favorite local guides app and getting restaurant recommendations not near your current GPS location, but your destination. We call this new development category Trip Experiences. We believe that it has the potential to unlock emergent startup opportunities which address a growing and previously impossible-to-reach segment: people in urban environments with valuable free time and attention.
StartupBus is literally the perfect vehicle for exploring this new frontier. With program alumni like Instacart, Branch, and Sunrise (we’ll pour one out in your honor), and a hack-it-till-you-make-it approach to new ideas, StartupBus brings together smart, passionate people with the goal of kickstarting sustainable new businesses in the course of three days… while on a bus.
On May 15, a group of these intrepid developers will leave San Francisco and travel to Boulder for Startup Week, building new products focused on transportation along the way. Devin Sandoz and Andrew Noonan from Uber will accompany the buspreneurs, documenting their efforts and helping them learn and leverage the Uber Developer Platform to bring their aspirations to life.
Tonight, from 7:30–9:30pm PDT, we’re kicking off the competition at Uber HQ here in San Francisco. We’ll start with a panel discussion on “hacking transportation” moderated by Jeremiah Owyang, featuring Shervin Pishevar, the cofounder and Executive Chairman of Hyperloop One, Savannah Peterson of Savvy Millennial, Keit Kollo from StartupBus, and myself, followed up with Andrew’s overview of the Uber Developer Platform. Watch the livestream to follow along with the developers in the room.
⚀ Cross-posted from the Uber Newsroom blog