850,000 reasons to reverse Uber decision
I’ll always remember the day the Maguire family took delivery of a video recorder for the first time.
I can’t remember the exact year but I was only a kid at the time and Sky+ and the iPlayer hadn’t been invented yet. If you missed a programme you wanted to watch then you had to wait for it to be repeated.
The video recorder was massive and we unwrapped a VHS tape and recorded something before watching it back. “Wow, that’s amazing,” said my dad, who said something similar when he saw a CD player, DVD and iPad for the first time.
I’m a lot like my dad and I reacted the same way when I made my first ever Skype call. “Wow, that's amazing,” I said in disbelief.
A couple of weeks ago I Skyped Jon Woodall, founder and MD of Space 48. Unbeknown to me he was flying over the Atlantic en route to a conference in America when he took my call. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that he was thousands of feet in the air but able to talk to me in Manchester. Amazing.
The thing with technology is I never cease to be amazed by it. My daughter does football training three nights a week so I’ve started using my personal hotspot on my iPhone a lot to do my work. My children have been using their personal hotspot for years because they don’t know any different but for the older generation (I’m 45) I still find it amazing.
When technology becomes mainstream you realise that you can’t put the genie back in the box. Satellite TV means we can never go back to only having four channels to choose from. Netflix means we can never go back to hiring our videos and DVDs from Blockbuster. The rise of Amazon means the traditional retail model will never be the same again.
On Monday a colleague and I decided to get an Uber into Manchester city centre because it was raining and we didn’t want to get wet. Two minutes after she confirmed the Uber she got a courtesy phone call from the driver to say he was outside.
The point of this column is that it’s impossible to ignore tech once it becomes part of your DNA.
With this in mind it’s hard to see how the decision by the Transport for London (TfL) not to renew Uber’s private hire operator licence in the capital will be anything more than a short-term shot across the bows.
Uber’s sensible admission that it had "got things wrong" was significant but the fact remains that more than 850,000 people have signed a petition calling for TfL’s decision to be overturned.
People have got used to the convenience and price that Uber offers and once the tech giant gets its house in order, the licence will be renewed. The thing with technology is you can’t close Pandora’s box once the lid has been opened.