Why Uber Personifies the Best of the On-Demand Economy

Photograph courtesy of Uber

This essay originally appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.

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 comes 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 (AMZN), 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 (FB) approach with Facebook Messenger: different service, different app, same account.

Following the money at Uber.

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.

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