This week, a High Court ruled that the taxi mobile app Uber is lawful, meaning that people can continue to hail private taxis using the Uber app, rather than using London black cabs.
The Uber smartphone app in London
The core issue with Uber in London is that London cabs are fitted with meters that calculate fares. Only taxi cabs are allowed to use these meters.
Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and London Private Hire Car Association argued that Uber drivers use the app as the equivalent of a taxi metre, making it unlawful.
The process used by Uber is that the app sends information to Uber's servers about the taxi journey, and a fee is calculated.
High Court ruling on the Uber mobile app
Transport for London believed the Uber app was lawful, so sent the case to the High Court to establish legal certainty.
The judge ruled that Uber's process is lawful and does not constitute a meter.
When did Uber launch their app?
The Uber founders had the idea to do something taxi and technology based in 2008. Mobile app development began in 2009, with a prototype app produced. It was tested out on three cabs the following year before going live that summer.
Mobile app controversy
The ongoing controversy began almost immediately, with a cease and desist order issued in San Francisco. Nevertheless, the app was launched in more US cities.
As the app gained popularity, Uber was criticized for charging more at peak periods and during Hurricane Sandy.
The original cease and desist order was eventually removed in 2013, although other cease and desist orders continue to be issued against them. This is mostly based on Uber acting as the equivalent of a cab company but without the usual licensing needed.
Last year, it turned out that a rival mobile app, Lyft, was deliberately hailing and cancelling Uber fares, while Uber was also doing the same to its rival.
How does Uber make money from the app?
Uber takes 20% commission on each fare found via the mobile app, acting as a middle man. Net annual revenue is thought to be about $200m and as a company, Uber is thought to be worth in the region of £10bn. The mobile app is now used globally.
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