Does anyone really need another app to call a car service with? Yes. Did I wait too long to answer?
I've been a loyal and evangelical Uber user for almost a year. It solves for a very specific transportation problem in NYC - you can never get a cab or car service when you really need one. So, with one tap, a quick address entry and another tap to confirm, one of two things will happen: 1) A beautiful, clean, black car will pull up in front of you within 12 minutes and take you anywhere you want to go, or 2) it won't... but the app tells you there are no cars available within a few seconds of your request.
Uber is not a complete solution. It does not, for example, let you book a car for a future time. If you need a car to take you to the airport during rush hour, it is much safer to book the car through a traditional car service. There is no guarantee that Uber will be able to get you a car during rush hour, and - more to the point - if it does, you will pay anywhere from 1.5x to 2.5x normal prices (assuming it isn't raining, then... all bets are off). Supply and demand rules (especially in inclement weather) and, right now, Uber has more potential customers than cars.
This may change.
There a new kid in town called GetTaxi, and it is so awesome that after one try, I will probably never use Uber again unless GetTaxi can't get me a car.
GetTaxi's Best Features
GetTaxi has over 6,000 drivers, one million downloads, 1,000 corporate customers and $30 million in funding. The app (iOS, Android and CrackBerry) makes Uber look like you're using stone axes and bearskins to book a car and, best of all, it is super simple to use.
With a simple tap, you can search for a car, track it in real time as it comes to you and pay at the end of the ride with a pre-stored credit card (and alter the tip amount on the fly). When the driver is confirmed, GetTaxi provides details about your driver, including his/her photo, ETA, distance from you, license plate number, rating by previous customers and the ability to call your driver. While this is similar to Uber, the experience is quite different. GetTaxi is technologically superior to Uber in many ways - including several power user issues that are too "inside" to list, but that Uber really needs to address (especially now).
GetTaxi calls their cars "G-Cars." According to Jing Herman, CEO of GetTaxi, "The G-Car is all about quality of life: quality cars, quality drivers and giving you back some good old quality time. The G-Cars are mostly Lincoln Town cars, with some SUVs. The drivers are mostly in suits and ties, and sometimes give great life advice. The G stands for GetTaxi, and a few other things (use your imagination)."
There are several things that differentiate GetTaxi from other similar apps here in NYC.
First, GetTaxi has transparent pricing. Fares are based on a fixed-pricing system, so you will always get the same base fare from neighborhood to neighborhood. Destination is optional in the app, but you can always get a price quote if you enter the destination. During rush hour there is a flat $5 peak time fee.
GetTaxi offers 24-hour customer care. The technology does all the work, but sometimes you actually want, or desperately need, to talk to someone; GetTaxi uniquely provides a 24-hour customer care hotline for users and drivers.
GetTaxi has cars from 4:30p-5:30p: the time when the Yellow Cabs are rushing to their shift changes. It is a safe, legal solution with transparent and reasonable pricing. Uber's pricing is variable. It charges more for traffic/time and typically has additional surge pricing of 1.25x-1.5x during rush hour.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you can advance book a car with GetTaxi. It is a complete cab/car service solution - which is awesome!
Is there room enough in the Big Apple for Uber and GetTaxi and Hailo (the NYC Yellow Cab App)? Absolutely. Will you develop a preference for one over the other? I certainly have - and it only took one ride.