Uber — the company known for on-demand taxi rides — is getting into the on-demand delivery business. Its foray into the delivery world is in Washington, D.C., where it has unveiled an experimental delivery service it calls Corner Store.
Here's how it works: Say my baby is sick, and I need some infant cold medicine.
Uber will send one of its drivers out to pick up whatever I need.
“Just think about a mom who’s at home with a sick kid and she doesn’t want to leave the child alone. It’s the perfect opportunity,” says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research.
Rosenblum says Uber is competing with lots of other companies who are experimenting with on-demand delivery: Google, eBay, Walmart. And, of course, Amazon.
How can Uber compete with the likes of Amazon? Think of Amazon as a bus, and Uber as, well, a taxi.
“Amazon is going to have the low-cost delivery because of all those passengers on the bus, whereas Uber is going to have one package on the taxi, ” says Rob Howard, founder and CEO of Grand Junction, a company that provides software for shippers.
Uber is offering its Corner Store delivery service for free at first, although you have to pay for the products you order. If Corner Store becomes permanent, it'll have to charge for delivery.
While Uber may not be able to match Amazon’s low prices, but Howard says consumers may be willing to pay more to get stuff fast.
Home builders are having a party, thanks to a host of new numbers suggesting the backhoes and construction workers are busy. Home construction rose 22 percent over last year. Building permits are up 7.7 percent. And a measure of builders’ confidence has exceeded expectations.
But first-time buyers are largely absent. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, new buyers historically purchased around 30 percent of newly built homes. Now it’s around 16 percent.
“Underwriting criteria are tighter now,” says David Crowe of the association. “And that’s the age group that usually falls out if you are restrictive in terms of credit scores.”
Young buyers also face job instability, lower incomes, and increased down payments. One brokerage found the median down payment for starter homes rose from around $6,000 in 2007 to more than $9,000 last year.
But first-timers are a key to unlocking the whole housing market. Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the Wharton School, says at some point, lots of first-timers will buy existing starter houses.
“When they come in the market, that’s going to give a boost to existing home sales,” Wachter says, “which will allow those who are in their homes, still not getting the price they want, still underwater, they’ll be able to sell. Then they’ll be able to buy the new homes, which tend to be trade-up homes. New homes are trade-up homes generally.”
It’s a cascade effect. And right now, new demand has to flow in.
Samsung has unveiled a partnership with bookseller Barnes and Noble to create a new version of the Nook tablet, in a bid to compete with Amazon and their Kindle device. To get a read on whether such a device would work, we spoke to New York Times tech columnist Molly Wood.
Wood described the prospects for the partnership as uncertain at best.
“I would say that moderate non-failure is the best we can hope for right now,” Wood said.
However, she also noted that Samsung can make media and publisher deals that would bring more attention to the Nook, as competition in the tablet market is no longer is about the hardware.
Samsung and Barnes & Noble could even take advantage of the tension between Amazon and other publishers to negotiate deals, but this would likely lead to higher prices for consumers.
The boy was found naked on the beach in West Point, a slum in Liberia's capital city of Monrovia. At first no one would take him in. People — and even a nearby clinic — were afraid he had Ebola.