business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Bloomberg reports that ”Uber Technologies Inc. plans to deliver food by drone in San Diego as part of a wide-reaching commercial test program approved by the U.S. federal government.”

According to the story, “The U.S. Transportation Department said it chose 10 state, local and tribal governments and a handful of companies, including Alphabet Inc., FedEx Corp., Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Uber, to work together on commercial drone testing.”

The story says that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says that “people should expect meal delivery in five to 30 minutes, depending on whether it comes from a drone or a human,” and says that Khosrowshahi now claims that Uber is the world’s largest food delivery company.

That’s all interesting, and demonstrates that drone delivery isn’t limited to one well-known e-commerce company that tends to get most of the headlines.

But what also was interesting was that Khosrowshahi made his comments at the company’s flying car conference, Uber Elevate. And the story notes that “Khosrowshahi also emphasized Uber’s commitment to electric bicycles following its acquisition of Jump Bikes last month. The business competes with several venture-backed startups offering similar services for renting bikes and scooters around cities using an app.”

Now to some degree, these various enterprises offer “a diversion from Uber’s embattled autonomous-car program.”

But I also found one comment by Khosrowshahi to be instructive.

“Uber can’t just be about cars,” he said. “It has to be about mobility.”

Boom. That’s the Eye-Opener.

“Mobility,” it seems to me, is about being customer-focused … it is about the ends.

“Cars” is about the means.

And I think these days, the best way for companies to define a competitive, differential advantage is to focus on customer needs, wants and aspirations.
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