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Your Trip, Your Experience: Uber’s New “Trip Experiences”

Published onApr 12, 2016
Your Trip, Your Experience: Uber’s New “Trip Experiences”

Uber is teaming up with third party app providers to create a personal “trip experience” while taking your Uber ride.  Uber’s first partnership with Spotify in 2014 started Uber’s vision of a personalized trip experience.  With the Spotify partnership, once inside your Uber vehicle, a customer is able to listen to his or her music from their own Spotify playlist inside the Uber vehicle.  The partnership with Spotify came at a unique time when Taylor Swift was removing her songs from Spotify’s streaming service because of a dispute over Spotify’s royalty fees to artists.  The dispute between Taylor Swift and Spotify highlights a legal battle that indirectly impacts Uber’s partnership with Spotify.  The partnership with Spotify is also limited by Uber. For instance, the Uber car must be able to connect to Spotify and drivers must be willing to give control to the passenger.

Uber has also teamed with the National Football League, Morgan Stanley, Starbucks, and United Airlines to advertise its ride sharing service.  Similarly, Uber has partnered with Facebook, Foursquare, and Opentable that allows a user to request an Uber ride within the companies’ apps.  The advantage of Trip Experiences will allow Facebook Messenger to know automatically that the user is on an Uber ride.  As a result, Facebook could prompt a user to share that he or she is on a ride with their message thread.

It appears that a partnership with Uber is beneficial for an app.  For example, apps with an Uber button have seen an eleven percent increase in customer engagement.  But, there are some concerns with such an increase in third party app providers.  There will be an incentive for Trip Experience to also include advertisements.  Uber’s developer terms do not allow unsolicited advertisements unless the content benefits the user’s experience during the trip.  But, an advertisement can be connected with a music playlist or a restaurant guide can have a promotion for a particular restaurant.  Uber’s willingness to put their code in third party developer hands may be considered a “slippery slope.”  For instance, while riding there may be a particular restaurant nearby and an advertisement for that restaurant pops up to remind you.

In Uber’s blog announcing Trip Experiences, Uber announces some of the ideas that they predict will be generated in Trip Experiences.  Uber suggests playlists that fit to the time allotted for your Uber trip, a news update for the amount of time of your trip, local guides, or turn on the heating while you’re headed home.  Uber is cautious in offering these third party apps and makes clear that the rider “will need to give permission before any app can connect to Uber and access their trip details.”  Likewise, riders will be able to “turn off the feature on an app by app basis.”

If Trip Experiences ignites an increase in third party apps, which may be the case, Uber will need to make sure that users are well aware of the potential implications of the third party apps.  For example, in order to use Spotify, the user must have an account and pay the fee to use the service.  Uber riders must remain in control and give permission to use the apps in Trip Experiences.  Uber may also not be able to control potential problems that may arise from the app and other third parties like in the Spotify and Taylor Swift case.

*Dianna Shinn is a second year law student at Wake Forest University. She holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

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