The sharing economy is one of the hot new trends of the tech industry. The hottest participants in this new trend are Uber and Lyft, Both are ride-sharing platforms focused on connecting you with a driver directly. The difference between using these apps and calling a taxi service are mostly in convenience. Whether you use a taxi or one of these services, you’ll likely get from A to B safely but the difference in convenience really adds up. Things like scheduling a pick-up, knowing how far away your driver is, receiving a confirmation, pre-arranging payment, having a picture of your driver, and requesting a specific type of vehicle are only a few of the added conveniences. All of these add up to a very compelling alternative. Although these services are also skirting the law in a lot of cases by not providing adequate driver insurances, background checks, and licenses these issues will eventually work themselves out.
Sadly, there are also examples of the sharing economy that provide questionable benefits and are basically abusing the system. Recently in the news, Monkey Parking, and app that helps you bid for on-street parking is one that provides questionable value. The key advantage being that you can more easily find parking in areas that have parking problems such as San Francisco. This app has already been deemed illegal by the SF city attorney because people are basically making money off of public property.
The latest entrant: Reservation Hop. This app apparently makes restaurant reservations under fake names and then sells those reservations to you. Really? Where is the value to consumers here? This app appears more like it is making itself a meddlesome middleman in a situation where it adds no value. Worse than that, it is basically abusing a system of reservations based on an honor system. Restaurants will likely start asking for credit cards or will ask for a form of ID to get rid of this abuse. Hopefully we’ll start giving less attention to these junky apps and get back to rewarding innovation rather than sleazy business tactics.