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In June 2018, Uber announced Uber Lite, a stripped down version of the app created for passengers in emerging markets. Developed by a team in India, the initial pilot will take place in that country before an international rollout. The size of the app is one key benefit, at 5MB – against 291 MB for the standard iOS app – it is teeny-tiny: smaller than three selfies! The second key benefit is a simplified booking process. Thought Uber couldn’t be any simpler? Read on…

Of course, Uber didn’t pioneer the ‘Lite’ app for emerging markets; Uber Lite follows similar plays by Facebook, Amazon and even India’s ride-hailing leader, Ola. But this is an impressive execution that combines an intimate understanding of local preferences along with a willingness to break old rules. In response to how Indian riders were already using the service, the new app will see local points of interest prompted for pickup location. Meanwhile, once a booking is confirmed, the driver’s licence plate is displayed more prominently. We’d like to see that feature brought to the standard app! No more tapping madly at the phone while stumbling into three lanes of angry airport taxis...

When Uber first entered our lives (long before the parade of scandals) the user experience and business model were monumentally impactful. Here was an innovation that changed what consumers expected of the world around them, and fueled new expectations of one-touch, on-demand service.

Now, Uber are at it again. The Lite app is sure to accelerate expectations of customization around behaviors, tastes and preferences in emerging markets. So one question for you: how bold are you in allowing your team – or relevant local teams – to adapt your core offering for new markets or new customer segments?

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