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Apple considered – and rejected – Uber for deliveries

An Uber driver navigates the streets of Brooklyn?s Crown Heights neighborhood.An Uber driver navigates the streets of Brooklyn?s Crown Heights neighborhood.
Can a ride sharing service that only serves women compete with Uber?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.