Remember a couple of days ago when we reported that Uber Boston, a car service run via a smartphone GPS, had been issued a cease and desist letter by the Division of Standards?
Well forget all of that. Uber is back in business, even though they never really left.
The service was originally called out back in May for operating an unlicensed livery service, in which they were found to be using GPS technology that had no precedent in Massachusetts law. Because the company was using GPS to make financial transactions, and because there were no existing standards for this kind of technology, Uber was denied access to work in the city.
Just a day after the letter was sent, and petitions and naysayers popped up around the Internet, the state has reversed their decision, saying that “The Division has since learned that this type of technology is currently under review for the development of standards by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Because of this, the Division will issue an operating certificate to Uber.”
The company seemed to get a little help from its good friends in the governor’s office, and here at the Dig.
I mean, after all, if we say something is awesome, that usually means it is.
This is presently good news for Uber, but what about its future? There is still one obstacle in its way, something it has to deal with before it can run a smooth operation: the taxi companies.
According to a press release issued by DBMediaStrategies, “illegal” car services like Uber pose a dangerous threat to the safety of the customers, and to previously employed drivers.
“Smartphone applications… without oversight are dangerous to the riding public and to the confidence the public has in the regulators responsible for these services,” said former commissioner of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, Mathew W. Daus.
Since there are no real standards in place to discuss the ever-changing environment of previously traditional services, it seems that many people are going for the “let’s just go back to the way things were” approach, specifically people who prefer taxis. Crazy right?
Taxi drivers would actually suffer in the competition with Uber and other similar companies, especially in Boston where taxis are notorious for being, well, notorious. It’s why many of the Hub’s taxi drivers seem to be pretty pissed about the reversal.
The cars dispatched by Uber are not regulated the way taxis are, and this creates a lot of unfair competition. The same issue has come up in other cities, including Washington D.C..
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sees it differently, saying that it is all just about the business.
“Was Yahoo upset when Google came out? Of course. In that industry, people compete. In the cab industry, they try to curtail competition.”
Whether talks about the future of the industry will end up curtailing Uber’s thriving business is anybody’s guess. However, most of us are probably okay with not having to get into run-down cabs with sketchy drivers.