One of the tech gurus was on the radio last week talking about the rise and fall of that mighty giant, BlackBerry. Do you remember the BlackBerry? It straddled the smartphone market like a colossus, a mere eight years ago. It was just like the ANC, really. It dominated the market. No-one thought it could fail. It could do no wrong. Market share? It hogged everything.
Yet things change. The smart young bucks call it disruption. Us old geezers call it adapt or die. BlackBerry failed to adapt.
When the iPhone first came out, former BlackBerry co-CEO Mike Lazaridis scoffed at it.
"He thought it was a toy. He derided its poor battery life and balked at the idea that anyone would want to type on glass when BlackBerrys offered full QWERTY keyboards," wrote Eric Ziman on the InformationWeek website. Lazaridis was dead wrong, though. Show me a professional using a BlackBerry today and I will point you to the nearest museum.
The BlackBerry story really does remind me of the trajectory of the ANC. In 2004 the ANC got 69% of the votes in the national elections. This year it got 54% of the votes in the local elections. I will be watching the 2019 national polls with interest.
I don’t want to go the way of the BlackBerry. So when I heard the world was going to start ordering its food in from the best restaurants in the city, via Uber, to enjoy at home, I thought: better get into this mode of eating, quick, or be all alone at a restaurant one day soon. What’s going to happen to good old Mr Delivery (or Mr D as it’s now called), which I have used for the past 20 or so years?
UberEATS is the transport service’s latest "innovation". Uber users will be familiar with how it works: you download the app, enter your details and order your transport wherever you are in the world. With UberEATS you get a selection of pre-screened restaurants, you pick your favourites from their menu and place your order. For our Friday movie night in we chose to order from a tapas restaurant we had always wanted to sample: Vicky Cristina’s in Craighall.
We ordered a medley of prawns, fish, calamari and some chicken.
Two quibbles: after we had downloaded the UberEATS application we decided to explore the various menus. By mistake we placed an order we didn’t want. We couldn’t cancel immediately as there was no cancellation feature on the app! We ended up calling the assistance line. The Irish bloke on the other side was helpful and immediately cancelled the order. But, you know, the whole idea of Uber is that you don’t want to be talking to strangers.
My second quibble was that orders seem to take ages. Maybe I was being unfair, but our order took about 55 minutes from placement of the order to arrival. Okay, it was a big order.
The food? We all thought it was excellent. The prawns in garlic and lemon were succulent, tasty and perfectly done. Usually take-out prawns arrive soggy. Not Vicky Cristina’s. Of the many dishes we ordered the only disappointment was a chorizo and potato dish. The sausage was poor — full of fat and with an off, sour taste. The rest was magnificent and we will be ordering there again.
The restaurants on the UberEATS menu are slightly more expensive and higher-end than those on the competitors’ menus, so prices are higher.
Overall UberEATS was good. I do hope it doesn’t put Mr D out of business, though. I like competition and variety. The app was easy to use and didn’t make me feel like a dinosaur.
I am, after all, from a time when we used landlines. I am like the ANC. Will we survive?
***** Thuli Madonsela
* Jacob Zuma