About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

31 May 2016

Uber Wars

I am an occasional user of Uber, although this past weekend, I ended up using it three times - probably more than the rest of the year combined. Uber has revolutionised personal transport; and its costs are not significantly higher than alternatives; especially when used in more off peak times.

I got talking to all three drivers this weekend - and one thing stood out - their stories with dealing with the traditional metered taxi competition. I have seen some reports on the news; but their stories are far more personal and eye-opening. Whether it is one driver, whose car was scratched by a metered taxi driver taking a plank to his car (he was the lucky one - the other Uber driver had a smashed windscreen) or the other driver who covers his phone and doesn't openly display the operating permit to avoid detection - there is clearly far more opposition than I initially believed.

What is interesting however, is that I would not really consider using metered taxis in most situations (in contrast to the Uber). I have taken a few - especially from the Gautrain station when travelling - but in most cases they are a pain. Metered taxis are difficult to get hold off; their quality of cars are usually inferior; and their rates are usually higher. If I consider my three trips this weekend, I would only consider doing one of them using a metered taxi - but even then, it would have been unlikely. I wonder how many Uber users would use metered taxis instead.

Clearly metered taxis are feeling the pinch - but I am surprised by their reaction in most cases. The vast majority of Uber drivers I have talked to are employed drivers - the cars are owned by someone else (sometimes a family member) and the drivers are employed to drive and take a cut as salary (around 20 - 25% seems to be the norm). And Uber is not that different to metered taxis - except that they regulate fares. Surely, it would make more sense for the metered taxi owners to join the Uber brigade instead of trying to compete on a largely ineffective service offering. Heck - there is nothing that is truly stopping them to run both modes - in fact some Uber drivers seem to do this also (one driver mentioned dropping of a customer in Magaliesberg for the weekend and then fetching them at a pre-determined time). 

Overall, the anger of metered taxis, in South Africa and elsewhere, is just a sign of what to expect from other disruptive economic models. From AirBnB to self driving cars; existing business models will feel the pinch and may make their anger felt.

29 May 2016

Movie: Macbeth

Last year's film production of Macbeth, has been on the South African circuit for a while - but M and I kept postponing for various reasons. I have seen a fair number of productions - on stage, filmed versions of stage productions and movies - and in my opinion; this is one of the best, if not the best, version of Shakespeare's classic. 

In terms of movie versions - the production and set design; coupled with the amazingly haunting soundtrack has not been matched. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard give a terrific performance; as do the rest of the cast; but there are subtle changes in the screenplay (no deviations in the storyline or dialogue beyond some shortening) that really brings it to life. The brutal opening battle scene (where the witches seem to be keeping watch), the addition of the fourth (non speaking) young witch, the scene of Banqo's demise and Fleance's getaway - and even the ending with Fleance and Macbeth's sword - they all bring a new dimension to a very well known play.