Why you should use a mobility platform instead of an uber clone app

Can you really launch a ride hailing company with an Uber clone app? This post breaks down the risks of taking this route, and why going with a mobility platform is the safer, smarter option.


Niklas MeyThursday, September 2, 2021

A quick search for “Uber clone apps” will result in thousands of listings from app developers offering mobility professionals and ride sharing entrepreneurs fast and cheap solutions for launching ride sharing services.

What’s not advertised is the fact that cloned apps often result in sunken costs, wasted time and an unpolished, poorly functioning product that delivers unsatisfying user experiences and hinders the company’s ability to scale their business.

“Put it on the app store and they will come” may be nice in theory, but it’s far from the truth when looking to enter the ride sharing industry. Profitable and efficient mobility services require a reliable and flexible tech foundation, both of which—and much more—can be found with mobility platforms.

Before we dive further into benefits of mobility platforms, and risks associated with purchasing cloned apps, let’s go over some key definitions.

What is a clone script?

A clone script takes the script of an existing app, software, or website as a ready-made solution for quickly launching a new app, software, or website with the same basic functionalities. Often employed by entrepreneurs on a budget, cloning scripts is seen as a fast way to get business off the ground with minimal startup costs.

What is an Uber clone app?

Put simply, an Uber clone app uses a clone script to create a new app that works like Uber. Ride sharing entrepreneurs or ​​taxi companies adding an app or ride sharing service to their offering typically buy an Uber clone app through third party app developers to cut down on time and money invested in creating their own software from the ground up, and then simply modify the clone script to fit their own needs. However, this “jumpstart” solution can often result in additional unforeseen costs and time-consuming challenges—both in the short and long-term.

While mostly associated with the ride sharing industry, Uber clone apps are used by various on-demand businesses, such as same-day service platforms or food delivery apps.

How do costs compare to a mobility platform?

The cost of investing in an Uber clone app will vary depending on the software development company you hire and your expectations of the product’s features. According to Spare CTO and  co-founder, Alexey Indeev, “a minimum viable product Uber clone app costs between $20,000 and $30,000 USD and takes about four months to develop. However, a more functional, polished, and launch-ready product costs approximately three to four times more and takes an additional three to four months to develop.”

In addition to the upfront investment of cloning an app, companies should take into account the integration costs and monthly fees for a payment system such as Stripe or Braintree (which is the online payment solution Uber uses) and budget for ongoing maintenance.

The idea that startups and companies can launch with lower overhead when going with an Uber clone app might be true if only launch costs are taken into account. But the potential for sunk costs due to a faulty product and failed service launch or for fixing ongoing problems with the app can add up quickly, and hinder the ability to scale and become profitable.

While the costs of mobility platforms vary, many of them, like Spare, offer accessible financing options and various pricing levels, such as pay-per-user—meaning the ride sharing company has some control over the costs. In addition, it’s a less risky investment as it eliminates the potential need for ride sharing companies to hire in-house developers to work on the app or to troubleshoot issues.

Risks of using an Uber clone app

Offering ride sharing services via an Uber clone app may feel like a way for startups and companies to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel.’ However, it’s a shortcut that comes with various potential risks, including:

  • Delayed or cancelled launch: If the product isn’t functional or finished correctly, it could require further iterations that push back—or cancel entirely!—the launch of your service, resulting in wasted time and sunk costs.
  • Unreliable service/uptime: Establishing customer loyalty is impossible if the app is frequently down for maintenance.
  • Poor driver and rider experience: Uber clone apps are built to function, and by attempting to replicate the general user experience of the original app, miss out on the minutiae that goes into catering to specific users.
  • Curbed scalability: Your business may be hindered by the inability to quickly innovate and adapt without hiring and onboarding additional engineers.
  • Nebulous legalities: If IPs aren’t breached and copyrighted content from the original app aren’t copied, cloning the “idea” of an app may be legal. But this is grey territory, and comes with potential legal risks.
  • Limited service differentiation: Unless you’re paying for custom developments, your ride sharing service configuration will be based on Uber’s, limiting your ability to set yourself apart from the competition.

Why a mobility platform is the better solution

Scripts for ride sharing apps like Uber are written over long periods of time by highly skilled and qualified software engineers, while cloned apps are generally developed by a smaller team and over a shorter period of time who might capture the general gist and functioning of the app, but miss out on the smaller details that go into creating an excellent user experience. To fill in those blanks and create a product that’s truly competitive, ride sharing companies who go with an Uber clone typically need to hire additional engineers down the road.

With a mobility platform, you’re guaranteed a solid, reliable product that’s been built with users in mind from the get-go. While the end goal of an app clone developer may be to secure deals with ride sharing companies, mobility platforms build relationships with the companies they partner with, and the end goal is successful services and happy riders.

Other reasons that mobility platforms are a better solution for ride sharing companies include:

  • Launch fast: Using an uber clone app may be faster than building your own app entirely from the ground up. But launching with a self-serve mobility service that’s ready to start serving riders and simply requires you to configure your service parameters is faster—and more reliable. (Spare can launch new services in as little as 24 hours!)
  • Flexibility: Instead of worrying about potential glitches or issues, service providers are able to instead focus on improving their business through rapid prototyping. For instance, companies can test pricing structures such as rider group-specific pricing or promotional prices to find the fare rules that result in the most profitable business model.
  • Support: You may be able to fulfill the basic needs of a ride sharing service with the clone app, but with a mobility platform, you will receive implementation help and ongoing optimization support, and will benefit from a partner success team that’s there to provide best practices and work towards your services’ success.
  • Positive rider and driver experience: Mobility platforms take the time to develop an app that’s optimized for specific user experiences, ensuring your drivers have all the resources they need to deliver excellent customer service, your riders have a seamless booking and rider experience, and administrators have easy-to-use automated tools.
  • Potential integration with other services: Thanks to mobility platforms that feature an open API, like Spare, companies or agencies that already offer transit services can—such as taxi, microtransit, or paratransit—can easily integrate new ride sharing services into the mix, allowing riders to book various kinds of trips with one app.
  • Proprietary data: In order to iterate and optimize your services, companies should make data-driven decisions based, ideally, on app-generated analytics.
  • More than just “the basics”: A profitable mobility service needs more than an app that simply allows people to book rides. Mobility platforms allow companies to manage all aspects of their ride sharing operations from one central tool, including driver, duty, and fleet management, fare rules, customer support, service configurations and more.

We are currently in a great time for emerging ride sharing startups. But profitable and efficient mobility services require a reliable and flexible tech foundation, which can’t be achieved through Uber clone apps. Mobility platforms like Spare, on the other hand, allow ride sharing providers to launch quickly, to iterate and optimize, and ultimately to offer their users an excellent app experience.

For more information about how Spare powers ride hailing and ride sharing companies of all sizes, check out our ride hailing page or drop us a line at [email protected]