Uber and Lyft want to force their way onto Android smartphones
One of the best things about owning an iPhone is not having to deal with apps that wireless carriers pre-load on many of the Android smartphones they sell. Some of Apple's software is useless -- Compass, Stocks, and Passbook come to mind -- but it's less ostentatious than all-but-useless crapware like NFL Mobile.
Now it almost seems like Uber and Lyft are conspiring to make people appreciate Apple's control over its smartphones even more. Both companies have recently announced deals with various carriers (AT&T and Verizon, respectively) that will see their ride-hailing apps installed on many devices.
It's not clear how AT&T and Verizon will decide which Android smartphones will have Uber's and Lyft's applications pre-installed. Details about the deals are scarce, and the announcements focus mostly on how both carriers think their ride-hailing platforms of choice are really "innovative."
At least Lyft drivers gets something out of the deal: Verizon's partnership with Lyft will give drivers a discount on their wireless service. Given their need for the service to do their jobs, this will be a welcome change for the company's not-quite-employees.
But I don't know how consumers are supposed to benefit. Were they unaware of Uber and Lyft despite the countless promotions and breathless news coverage? Not to mention the pink mustaches or the ice cream delivery schemes?
Usually when an unwanted app is preloaded onto a phone, it will simply be relegated to a part of someone's device where they never have to see it again. People are accustomed to hiding the useless applications pre-installed on their devices by wireless carriers, manufacturers, and software-makers, and they've become quite good at it.
It's not hard to see how this might benefit Uber and Lyft drivers. Plus it gives AT&T and Verizon some good press by partnering with some hot startups. Yet in terms of encouraging more people to use ride-hailing services, this move is more likely to simply annoy people.