Trying to Stop Uber Only Seems to Help Uber

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 3 2014 3:25 PM

Trying to Stop Uber Only Seems to Help Uber

454509946-in-this-photo-illustration-a-woman-uses-the-uber-app-on
Germany is not taking kindly to Uber. Uber doesn't care.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Remember when taxi drivers across Europe protested Uber in June? The always-smooth ride-sharing company seized on the chaos as a great marketing opportunity. It extended services in London and took out full-page ads in evening papers. It promoted steep discounts of up to 50 percent on rides. By the end of the day, Uber was reporting an 850 percent jump in new users in London alone.

Now as Germany seeks to halt Uber, the company is once again displaying its aptitude for turning a red light into a green one. In a short post on its blog this morning, Uber claimed that sign-ups across Germany more than tripled in the 24 hours since a Frankfurt court declared it was engaging in unfair competition with the local taxi industry and placed a ban on UberPop, a peer-to-peer transportation service. Sign-ups spiked the most in Hamburg (up 590 percent) followed by Düsseldorf (up 518 percent) and Munich (up 329 percent). Even in Frankfurt, the city where the ban originated, sign-ups are up 228 percent, according to Uber's data.

Advertisement

Looking at those figures, it's small wonder why Uber has repeatedly pursued rapid and aggressive expansion in blatant defiance of local authorities. The basic logic is that people need to try Uber to know they want to have Uber—and once they know they want Uber, the demand is hard to suppress. Banking on that helped Uber to overcome a cease-and-desist order in California several years ago and to clear similar hurdles in New York and D.C. Uber launched in Germany in early 2013 and describes the country as one of its "fastest growing markets" in Europe. That means Germans have already had plenty of time to try Uber and realize they want to keep it around. And if that's that case, even stiff regulation is going to have a hard time stopping it.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.