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Car-sharing service Lyft goes public, adds Android app

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Lyft, the San Francisco-based mobile app from car-sharing company Zimride, has launched out of beta on Thursday with iOS and will release an Android app shortly, testing the viability of the real-time ride-sharing in a market flooded with transportation options for urban smartphone owners.

Lyft was launched this summer in private beta as the locally oriented real-time sister app to trip-sharing service Zimride, designed for individuals who might otherwise take a taxi or call a popular but much more expensive Uber car to get to their destination nearby.

The riders and drivers can look at each other’s profiles and the app is using Facebook Connect for log-in and social security. Once booked, riders can watch their drivers navigate to them on a mobile map in real-time.

The app was previously only available to a limited number of users on iPhone in private beta. Now, the app is publicly available in the iOS App Store, and the Android app will launch on Tuesday. The company said that 80 percent of first-time users become repeat customers within the month, and they now conduct “hundreds” of rides per day. Uber has popularized the idea of summoning a car via smartphone, but the question is whether there will be enough Lyft drivers and riders to make the system work on a larger, real-time scale. The founders said they understand this issue, and are working quickly to scale the business as it grows.

In taking a Lyft ride, I was disappointed that the app doesn’t provide riders with an estimated cost for the intended ride. Unfamiliar users might be worried about incurring a high rate, and my driver said she couldn’t quote one for me. However, the company said riders can expect to pay about 20 to 30 percent less than they would for a taxi, and I was pleasantly surprised by how low the cost was for my ride.

The fare is also a suggested rate, so riders can raise or lower what they pay depending on the service they receive. Lyft encourages riders to sit in the front seat with the driver, charge their phones, DJ the tunes and fist-bump upon entrance and exit of the car, so it feels more like taking a ride with a friend than a cab driver. All of the cars display large fuzzy, pink mustaches on them, so you might see them around San Francisco.

25 Responses to “Car-sharing service Lyft goes public, adds Android app”

  1. Steve Crowley

    I don’t get TechCrunch’s complaint that after 12 hours the news is stale. If a reporter is unique and adds value I’d appreciate his or her take at any time.

  2. Nick Donnelly

    So the embargo breaking becomes the story – then the denial of knowledge of the embargo is the story – then a back & forth between TC & GO becomes the story.

    The tail is wagging the dog.

    • Nick

      You are absolutely correct that the back-&-forth is a non story and hence we have already moved on to do our jobs. Comments were used to clarify and state our side of situation. Of course, grousing in public is never a good idea.

      Thanks for sharing your sentiments.

  3. To everyone criticizing Eliza Kern, it seems silly to buy wholesale into Ryan Lawler’s claim that she knowingly broke the embargo… Seems like the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

    Pretty ridiculous to claim Kern is trying to destroy a start-up.

  4. Nemo Fairbrother

    har har. It’s funny how all the other tech journo’s somehow managed to realise that there was an embargo and you somehow “forgot”.

    You should feel deeply ashamed of yourselves for your behaviour, your denials ring hollow.

  5. Eliza was not aware there was an embargo. I got the invitation to the party as well and it says the company plans to move beyond private beta next week and wants to talk about it to the media, but it doesn’t ask for an embargo. A Lyft spokesperson agreed in a conversation with us that this was confusing. Not sure what else to say.

  6. Just curious if there is some personal reason you decided to screw up Lyfts launch plans? Good to see the people who cover start-ups are looking out for them – oh, wait.

    • Andre

      Lyft never mentioned there was an embargo to us at any point and we confirmed that with them time and again today. Hope that helps you understand the full picture. Thanks for the comment.

    • Lyft Fan… Sorry to burst your bubble, but someone needs to take into account the fact that their PR team never mentioned embargo to us. Of course, you read someone’s headline, that’s all you are going to see.

  7. Geoff Mathieux

    Only Tickengo enables true peer-to-peer collaborative transportation. Unlike the newcomers, Tickengo has never and will never hire professional drivers. It’s the only true peer-to-peer service. Check it out!