Uber bites into food delivery

By Heather Clancy and Adam Lashinsky
March 16, 2016

I’ve seen the future. It’s extremely convenient, even if the food isn’t particularly warm.

Allow me to explain.

Uber announced Tuesday morning it has created a new Apple and Android app for its UberEATS food-delivery program. I hadn’t tried the service yet, so I promptly downloaded the app, which has a cute fork logo, and when lunchtime came around I ordered a falafel plate from a nearby restaurant.

The transaction was easy. I’m not picky about food, so I briefly perused the list of restaurants and then chose popular items at the falafel joint I’d picked. The ordering process took a couple minutes, and Uber billed me in the same seamless way it charges me for rides. The meal cost $10 plus tax. As a consumer I have no idea how the driver gets paid, though at that price it felt right to tip, so I did.

The app first told me my food would arrive in 15 to 26 minutes. Then, when I ordered my food the estimated delivery time was 29 minutes. It eventually took 38 minutes. I didn’t mind this at all. The food was coming to me, after all, and I could have chosen one of Uber’s daily “instant delivery” items, which come more quickly.

More troubling is that my food wasn’t remotely warm by the time it arrived, though it tasted quite good anyway. My lesson learned: Go for something cold or only use this service for now if I’m near a microwave oven.

Everything about what Uber is doing is clever. Just as I love ordering stuff from Amazon, I’m pretty excited to bunch my rides and other transportation needs with Uber, which has my credit card and gives me comprehensive reports on my spending. (UberEATS is available in 13 cities, five of which got the new app Tuesday.) It’s also clever that Uber created a separate app for food ordering, echoing Facebook’s approach with Facebook Messenger: different service, different app, same account.

Uber is stepping on the gas on the so-called on-demand economy even as others are flailing. For more on that I recommend Erin Griffith’s column in the current issue of Fortune.

And bon appétit.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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BITS AND BYTES

Pure Storage receives $14 million fine in EMC patent case. A federal jury found that the flash-storage hardware specialist infringed on one of three patents that EMC was defending. The much larger company was looking for $83 million. Their legal feud isn’t over yet. EMC also sued Pure in November 2013 for poaching several employees it believes may have improperly disclosed confidential information to its smaller rival. (Wall Street Journal)

Jawbone adds to trade secret allegations against Fitbit. The consumer electronics company, which competes with Fitbit in the fitness wearables market, has accused employees poached by its rival of failing to return company property such as price lists and technical schematics. Jawbone’s updated filing adds another engineer to its original complaint. (Fortune)

Instagram tests personalized feeds. The photo-sharing service is experimenting with algorithms that will display images and videos based on a person’s history of interactions rather than in chronological order. The plan echoes similar moves by other social media giants, including Twitter, which began offering this capability in February. (New York Times)

Google shakes up marketing analytics. The Internet advertising giant is combining a half-dozen marketing analytics tools—four of which are brand new—into a comprehensive new dashboard. The new mashup will directly challenge similar services from the likes of Adobe, Salesforce, and Oracle that aimed at chief marketing officers. (Fortune)

Sony delays virtual reality launch. The company’s highly anticipated PlayStation VR gadget is now scheduled for an October release, instead of the June introduction that gamers were expecting. On the bright side, it will cost around $399—far less than the $599 that Facebook wants for the Oculus Rift device. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)

eBay allies with on-demand startup Shyp to speed deliveries. The online marketplace is trying to make it simpler for sellers to get packages to buyers, without having to handle the logistics themselves. Under the new relationship, couriers dispatched via the Shyp mobile app will handle packaging and delivering items to FedEx, UPS, or the U.S. Postal Service to be sent on their way. The service costs $5 per shipment, plus the actual shipping costs. (Fortune)

Apple opens news service to pretty much everyone. As of Tuesday, anyone who publishes information online—including individual bloggers—should find it simpler to use Apple News to distribute updates. The move comes after a high-profile test phase with big-name publishers. Apple News increasingly is being pitted against services from Facebook (Instant Articles) and Google (Accelerated Mobile Pages). (Fortune)

Mark your calendar for March 22. That’s the date set for a crucial hearing over Apple’s refusal to provide the FBI with encryption software that could allow investigators to unlock the iPhone used by one of the suspects in the deadly San Bernardino, Calif., attack in December. (New York Times)


THE DOWNLOAD

For Oracle, it still boils down to the database. Another earnings call has come and gone, and to a large degree the software giant is telling the same old story, reports Fortune‘s Barbara Darrow.

As Oracle continues its cloud computing push against competitors like Salesforce and infrastructure giants like Amazon Web Services, it’s still the database that matters most. With a healthy customer base using its accounting software (known as enterprise resource planning or ERP in industry-speak) and human resources tools, Oracle still milks its cash cow, a relational database that most of the Fortune 500 have used to run their vital operations over the past couple of decades. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison remains confident the software giant can defend its dominance amid the cloud transition.



ONE MORE THING

Pressure on valuations shakes up tech recruiting. Want to hire an engineer from Dropbox or Twitter? He or she is more likely to pick up the phone, reports The New York Times. But recruiting cycles are longer and the stock market turmoil has made it harder to coax candidates who have jobs that seem relatively stable. (New York Times)


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.
@greentechlady
heather@heatherclancy.com

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