Uber is looking to eat up even more of your wallet by offering the promise of instant gratification in yet another key spending category: food.
The ride-hailing juggernaut released a new standalone application on Tuesday for ordering meals from a broad range of restaurants in select U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.
Uber’s decision to launch a full-blown app for UberEats, only its second standalone app for consumers, comes after more than a year of testing a scaled-down version of the service in select markets. The move suggests Uber believes meal deliveries could be its next billion-dollar business after car rides.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s tough-talking CEO, is fond of saying that if Uber “can get you a car in five minutes, we can get you anything in five minutes.” That may include anything from product shipments to helicopter rides.
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With UberEats, the startup applies that same approach to meals by offering a set of “instant delivery” options in each market that can be delivered in 10 minutes or less by the sprawling fleet of Uber couriers.
The secret ingredient of Uber Eats, however, is that for once the company is also playing the long game, so to speak.
Through the app, Uber is also providing deliveries from “hundreds” of restaurants that might take 30 to 40 minutes, or more.
With that model, Uber is effectively attacking food delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash from both sides the super fast delivery but narrow food selection that is unique to Uber, and the comparatively slower option with a broader selection that is closer to GrubHub.
GrubHub, which owns Seamless, saw its stock fall 4 percent in early trading Tuesday after the Uber app launch. Analysts who cover GrubHub have also raised concerns, with Cowen & Co. noting this week that Uber is “a serious entrant in food delivery given its large install base. and track record.”
That existing user base may prove to be nearly as valuable to Uber as its existing fleet of drivers for breaking into the potentially lucrative but very crowded meal delivery market.
For the millions of customers who already have Uber accounts, UberEats is pretty much ready for use the moment you download it. Uber, for better or worse, already has your credit card information and previous order locations on file.
Date: March 15, 2016