Mainstream Media Mangles Terms In Drooling Over Uber

Posted on December 5, 2014 by - Also by this author

So if Uber claims it's just a technology company, then he must be a technician and not a driver. Make sense?
So if Uber claims it's just a technology company, then he must be a technician and not a driver. Make sense?

The big industry headline this week was the massive boost to Uber's valuation, now at $40 billion. The ground transportation upstart has tapped technology to create a new niche for moving people around. Much of that success, however, comes from confusing certain terms, which most members of the media so far have not carefully considered.

I was reminded of this today while reading the Los Angeles Times front page article, "Upstart Uber outraces other tech models." The reporter writes, "Uber is more of a software company than a transportation company, taking a percentage of each transaction between driver and passenger."

Therein lies the most glaring inaccuracy of Uber media coverage. The Transportation Network Company (correct term) is NOT a software or technology company. It is a transportation company that uses software technology. If you apply the Los Angeles Times description of Uber, then any taxi, limousine, shuttle or rental car company that has any type of an app or interactive technology (e-mail?) as part of their operations could also be defined as a 'technology" company.

Netflix, to cite another example, is not a "technology" or "software" company. It is an Internet movie, programming, or entertainment service in the form of a downloadable app that uses streaming to deliver its product.

We see the same inaccuracy in the article with the term "ridesharing upstart." Rideshare is a 21st Century term for hitchhiking or carpooling. For-hire vehicles called up on an app are transportation. You are paying, not sharing. When money is exchanged, it's a transaction, not an act of sharing.

This point was underscored for me today when I lunched with a very smart friend of mine, a 30ish engineer in the aerospace industry, who said, "The problem I have with Uber is they call themselves rideshare. They're not sharing anything." By the way, he said he would never use a TNC for the obvious reasons we all know about in the limousine industry.

If the technology-rideshare mislabel approach to media coverage colors the judgments of regulators, then the limousine and taxi indusries will need to get clever and start redefining themselves as technology companies as well. In fact, every viable business now uses technology, and software, in some form to communicate and to transact with outside parties. Just deregulate them all and this controversy will be over.

We are all technology now. In fact, I'll take a cue from Uber and the Los Angeles Times by appropriating all Times content into a digital format of my choice, and then call myself a "technology company" and "media upstart." Why should traditional copyright rules apply to me, if taxi and limo rules don't apply to Uber? I'm just connecting people.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (4 Comments)

More Editor's Edge Blog Posts

September 22, 2016

Looking Like Livery Trash?

The more casual and coarse society gets, the more chauffeured service can gleam with a counter-couture-culture.

September 2, 2016

Public Doesn't Like Driverless Cars The Way Techies Do

As the dates for autonomous milestones move up, motorists retain a healthy skepticism of self-driving vehicles.

August 22, 2016

Comment Sums Up The Uber Dilemma For Operators

Opposite sides rage against the ride app machine: When do you consider an app legit?

August 10, 2016

Two News Items To Make You Go: Ah-Ha & Oh, No

What happens when the big buses are chauffeured, while more sedans to the airport are driven?

July 6, 2016

Industry Pricing Problem Apparent On Airport Runs

I did a test recently of two almost identical limo rides to and from the airport. It's time to talk about rates.

See More

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (4)

Post a Comment

Submit

Blogs

See More

See More

See More

See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - September 2016 $12.95 COVER STORY: * How Do We Max Our Markets? * *



Connect

Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close