Connor Simpson is a former staff writer for The Wire. His work has appeared in Business Insider and City Lab.
For a $15 to $30 fee.
Uber, the company known for delivering cars to your doorstep, has announced a new courier service launching in New York City today, raising the tantalizing prospect of turning your smartphone into a personal moving company.
CNBC reports UberRush, Uber's new courier service, will debut in your app marketplace of choice on Tuesday. "It's an Uber for things," explains Josh Mohrer, Uber's New York general manager. Which means a courier will transport your things from point A to point B, by either bike or a car, instead of delivering you. Even better, the company promises UberRush will deliver 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (At first UberRush will only be available to users in New York City, but Mohrer says the company plans to roll our UberRush into other markets soon.)
The cost is not insignificant. Users will pay a courier between $15 and $30, depending on distance, so you'll be less tempted to use it to deliver something like a bag of chips and Snickers bar. Your order (and it's urgency) has to be worth the substantial delivery fee. That means its chances of becoming the next Kozmo.com, the notoriously inefficient delivery service of the original dot-com boom, are at least somewhat reduced.
It also helps that Uber won't actually go to the store for you: They only pick up packages you already have in your possession, and deliver them somewhere else. So the decision to enter the courier market raises plenty of questions, like, who would find this app useful? Or to be more specific, who will find it more useful than the dozens of existing bike courier services already operating in Manhattan? Initially, restaurants and grocery stores looking to expand their bike fleet might seem like a potential growth market, but for now, it will likely remain in the realm of regular business people who need things shuttled from one office in the city to another. (In other words: The typical existing courier service customer.)
But it's the 24/7 nature of the service, and its mobile-enabled, push-button powers that lead to the biggest questions ... and the wildest possibilities. In fact, we can already imagine the "What's the oddest object you've ever Uber'd to a friend while drunk?" trend pieces that should start flooding your local newspaper by the weekend.
This post originally appeared on The Wire, an Atlantic partner site.