I'm A Product Guy.

Good, bad, great, all products can be better.

If you’re like me, you slightly obsess over every product you come across and are either impressed and inspired by an amazing experience or deeply disappointed by a total miss.  I can’t keep this ecstasy or misery to myself so there’s usually some rant which follows.

Filtering by Category: technology

Uber City Pass, July Update

Uber CityPass, July Update

July 5, 2017

Last time we took a deeper dive in at an Uber CityPass concept for travelers, based on extending the trial program: Uber Ride Pass.

I was just offered the Uber Ride Pass for SF and thought I’d share more details; in case Ride Pass is not available in your city <OR> the offer has not yet been bestowed upon you by the Ubes.


When mobile ordering apps take their foot of the pedal with loyalty - offers and rewards - the mobile commerce engine comes to a grinding halt.  Uber is no different, but rather than discount offers, they run their entire business at a loss - funding growth through an all out market-grab with a discounted service (there’s a good Bloomberg article with more details).  Loyalty does have a price.

So essentially, Uber is one big loyalty program and Ride Pass is an even deeper discount over standard UberX and UberPool services.  The Ride Pass goes beyond CAC (customer acquisition cost) and is a cost to keep customers by making their products habit-forming, a “Customer Habitual Cost” if you will.

Update Pricing

Ride Pass pricing, at least for SF, was updated since the last time we visited this the FEB-2017 pricing for 20-ride option:

  • was: $10 fee to unlock $2.49 UberPool & $4.99 UberX lasting 30 days

  • now: $8 fee to unlock $3.49 UberPool & $6.99 UberX lasting 28 days

The est. per ride price went up for UberPool from $2.99 to $3.89 and for UberX from $6.99 to $9.49, when I spoke to them this April they mentioned they’re still tweaking the numbers, so perhaps this update is closer to their desired “Customer Habitual Cost” for making Uber part of the daily routine.   

Uber Ride Pass, Update JUL-2017    


Oh and BTW, I snapped up the “Unlimited” option and am planning to use Uber for my commute to/from SF’s FiDi district, see you in a Pool!  

Facebook Attack Of The Clones

With almost a quarter of the world’s population on Facebook, wild success is an understatement -

Beyond what Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, or even Facebook themselves could have ever imagined.  I check it a few times a day, the in-between times, lately keeping up with my network for political rants *sigh* and articles, family and travel photos.  Facebook has integrated themselves into our daily lives, but every time a talking head says they’re innovative, we Product People cringe.  While they’ve been an exacting, fine-tuned execution machine; they’ve unabashedly jacked their great product ideas all along the way.   

Here’s a brief history of Facebook’s Greatest Lifts, starting with, well, Facebook.  

At this point, Facebook is biting Snapchat’s rhyme so hard that if they launched a feature that flushed your toilet on closing the app, Facebook would have it in Messenger and WhatsApp the following week, for both home and office.   

Will history serve as a precedent? will Facebook do Snapchat better than Snap?   


Is it better to be the innovator or the fast follower?  Lately the clones are winning.  In fashion, China usurps Italy and France.  Globally in tech, China again syphons ideas, from Silicon Valley: Alibaba-Amazon, Baidu-Google, Xiaomi-iPhone, Didi-Uber, Tujia-AirBnB.  We’ve seen this play before.  Facebook has taken a leaf out of Microsoft’s book, pinching cool ideas from competitors (so many well documented Mac rip-offs) and then executing better than the innovators.  While not first to run this playbook, they’re now masters of this domain. 

In fact, Facebook’s most innovative accomplishment is creating a fine tuned machine to refine good ideas, tweaking and improving even after starting from behind.  It’s impressive, Facebook will take your invention and beat you over the head with it, not only rolling you for your idea, but your users as well.  Through acquisition or straight up copying, they’ve proven they can do you better than you - Friendster, MySpace, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Snapchat, you’re next! 

Facebook is more an operations excellence company than pure product innovator, and that’s fine, it’s clearly working.  They didn’t invent hip photo filters, they acquired Instagram and made this better, while seamlessly integrating into their existing photo user experience.   They didn’t invent messenger app, but they executed a bold strategy to force users onto theirs, at the risk of backlash, then eclipsing 1 billion users by June, 2016.  So for now, the Death Star, Facebook, has its sights set on Snapchat, it will clone, improve, grind until all of our rainbow puking, dog and deer squishy faces are shared through their lenses.  

Product innovation? Nah, Facebook would rather achieve greatness in executing a simple plan of cloning innovators to a growing base of 1.8 billion monthly active users on their way to galactic domination. 

Snapchat! &nbsp;Facebook has eyes on you. &nbsp;"Mess with the bull and get the horns."

Snapchat!  Facebook has eyes on you.  "Mess with the bull and get the horns."

Facebook Greatest Lifts references:

  1. The Harvard Crimson facemash article

  2. Jon Loomer’s detailed timeline of The Facebook, illuminating my foggy memory

  3. Facebook acquires Friendster patents

  4. The new News Feed is Google Plus

  5. Facebook stories are Snapchat stories

  6. Facebook copies Snapchat again

  7. Facebook attack of the Snapchat clones

Pep Talk: Apple App Store Reviews

Stars Are Not Enough.

A "Four Star" Review Highlighting Major Issues.

A "Four Star" Review Highlighting Major Issues.

A few words on App Store reviews.  When considering ratings and reviews it’s important to separate feedback for the app UI from the backend service and fulfillment.  Of course these are important for the complete customer experience, but for example negative ratings about some local restaurants not supporting mobile ordering should not cloud judgement of a what may be slick UI for serving up offers.  Case in point, the Starbucks app does a lot of things well but they also have loyal super fans who tend to go easy on their shortcomings.  

Take this iOS review of the Starbucks app, four out of five stars, good right?  Yeah, no.  It's an account of duplicate credit card charges, mobile order failures, and an all around bad customer experience.  These four stars contribute to the 4.5 star rating of the app.  So as product people when evaluating mobile apps don’t be too quick to dismiss low star rated mobile apps as total disasters or the holy grail, assuming all 5 start apps are infallible.  

How can we make this better?  Apple App Store, this is your Product Pep Talk.  The App Store should offer more than a star rating and description, something like what Lyft does to learn more about how their drivers can improve, qualitative categories like: Safety, Navigation, Friendliness, Cleanliness.  As mobile app proliferation continues to grow, review categories like: Performance, Customer Experience, Usability, Features will help users and app developers learn more from the crowd.