Mis-Communicators of the Week: London’s Cabbies
17th June 2014
In many ways London's taxi drivers are a major asset to the city. The high barriers to entry, due to "The Knowledge" test all black cab drivers have to pass, means a safe, honest and reliable service which other world cities – New York springs to mind – sorely lack.
This week, however, they have rebelled: clogging London's streets in protest of a threat to their livelihoods. In doing so they have helped to publicise their competitor, further undermined their position and damaged their reputation.
In this digital age there are few industries that have escaped some form of digital disruption, now it's the cabbies turn. Instead of learning lessons from those, such as newspapers or music, who thought they could fight and even stop the digital revolution before belatedly embracing it, cabbies seem to be making the same mistake.
The threat is Uber – an app which allows people to book a mini cab and track vehicles. Launched in 2009, Uber is currently in operation in more than 70 cities across 37 countries.
London's cabbies claim apps like this are used by unlicensed taxi drivers and that firms who use Uber should be subject to the same regulations they are. It's an obvious argument to make when threatened with new competition – manipulate the market through regulation to shore up a market leading position.
There is an alternative: embrace the digital disruption and create an app that is better than Uber. That plus the world famous wisdom and wit of the Black cab drivers would be a winning formula.
Instead we saw a protest which alienated Londoners and helped to give Uber a huge publicity boost. That's why London's cabbies are my Mis-Communicators of the Week.
Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.