I’ve always wanted to ride in a helicopter. There’s something about the way they’re able to dart in between buildings, soar over bridges, and explode upon request (though that might just be the choppers Hollywood keeps buying) that appeals to me. Now Uber is making it possible to realize that dream on July 3 — provided that you live in New York, want to celebrate the holiday in the Hamptons, and have $3,000 you’re willing to part with. The car service for the one-percent is, at least for a day, becoming a helicopter service for the 0.1% and sure to irritate anyone who’s even heard of the Occupy movement.
UberChopper, as the service is called, comes a few weeks after the announcement that the company had cut the cost of its UberX service, which in San Francisco allows anyone with a car and a clear background check to chauffeur strangers. Uber now offers a service it claims is cheaper than the average taxi cab, an e-hailing solution for New York’s yellow cabs, a black car service, and, depending on the day, a helicopter service, flower delivery company, purveyor of mariachi bands, and ice cream truck dispatcher. Seriously. Uber is, as I’ve written before, a company with many products and even greater aspirations.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Uber roll out non-vehicle-related services in the future. The company is less about transportation and more about an efficient deployment of resources; it doesn’t own any cars, it doesn’t have to pay license fees to the cities in which it operates, and it doesn’t have to train many of its drivers. It’s better to think of Uber as a method of finding out where someone is, what they want, and how much they should pay in order to fulfill their heart’s desire. (And, obviously, that amount should be doubled if it’s raining or if too many other people’s wishes are being answered at the same time.)
SideCar CEO Sunil Paul told AllThingsD in May that he considers SideCar, a ride-sharing service, to be an information company instead of a transportation service. Uber operates in a similar manner, and the basic concept — pushing a button to summon whatever you want — has been brought over to delivery services, errand-running companies, and anything else that might be called the “Uber for whatever.”
Uber is a lot of things. A black car service. A symbol for Silicon Valley’s “cult of disruption.” A taxi-hailing app. Now, as the UberChopper one-off and the announcement that UberX would be cheaper than taxis (at least in San Francisco), Uber has shown that it’s more than just a transportation service for the one-percent. It’s an information company that happens to work in the transportation industry — which is why it’s able to offer helicopter rides, ice cream trucks, and mariachi bands without a hitch.