Apple considered – and rejected – Uber for deliveries

An Uber driver navigates the streets of Brooklyn?s Crown Heights neighborhood.
FILE ? An Uber driver navigates the streets of Brooklyn?s Crown Heights neighborhood, in New York, Jan. 30, 2015. Facing overwhelming demand from institutional investors, Uber has expended its latest round of venture financing from $1.8 to $2.8 billion, a move that now gives the company a valuation of around $40 billion. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)
Photograph by Sam Hodgson — The New York Times/Redux

Expecting delivery of an Apple Watch? Don’t expect it to arrive in an Uber car.

Apple discussed a delivery deal with Uber, according to today’s Wall Street Journal, but signed instead with Postmates, a startup courier service based in San Francisco.

The Journal story doesn’t say why Apple decided against what Uber calls its “urban logistics fabric” — a network of 200,000 active drivers that’s bigger than UPS.

But its reporting about other deals that fell through suggest some potential snags:

  • A deal with Gilt Groups fell apart because Uber’s insurance policy — which maxed out at $1,000 — was unable to cover high-priced items
  • Another deal fell apart because Uber didn’t have a way to link to an inventory-management system that specified things like shirt sizes and styles
  • Uber’s surge pricing system works against any company that ships a lot of product all at once — like new iPhones on the first day of availability

But the model of distributed delivery in a packet-switched network is a powerful one. These are details that someone will eventually work out, even if Uber can’t.

Link: The $50 Billion Question: Can Uber Deliver?

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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