In an effort to justify its astronomic valuation, Uber is moving beyond the boundaries of its app. You can already book an Uber from airline and restaurant apps, and now the on-demand taxi service is linking up with one of the bastions of the old model: directories.
In a first for local directories, former Yellow Pages company YP announced this morning that it has integrated with Uber’s API to allow searchers to book a car directly from the YP site or mobile app. The ride-sharing company released the API last year, announcing integrations with United Airlines, OpenTable, Starbucks and others.
The integration will add a deep link to all YP merchants’ pages that will effectively serve as an Uber button. That means that when you search for a restaurant or bar in the app you can not only call the business or look up directions, but actually hail an Uber by clicking on a deep link in the search page. What’s more, iOS users who do not have an Uber account can use Apple Pay to pay for the car without ever pulling out their wallet.
The integration itself is not huge deal for either party, but it does feed into a larger story for both companies. For Uber, the API effort is just another step to grow its user base. As a mobile-only service, Uber does not benefit from traffic coming through Google, which has played a key role in accelerating the growth of many of the user-generated content companies that exploded onto the scene during the mid-2000’s. To an extent, these integrations work to fill Google’s absence.
Also, Uber has emerged as a major beneficiary of Apple Pay, the iPhone maker’s new payment service. While the service was pitched primarily as an alternative to paying with a credit card in-store, it appears to have made a much bigger impact in the app community. By centralizing payment data, commerce apps like Uber now can offer its service to new users without forcing them to create an account. Just as half of Yelp’s traffic comes from users who started searching on Google, much of Uber’s growth will come from users who may never see the app itself.
For YP, the move is the latest in a series of partnerships aimed at offering users more options to transact with businesses on a search page . The company signed a partnership with Grubhub last September to allow users to order food and announced a similar deal with Fandango, the movie ticketing service, last month.
“Ultimately, consumers want to actually do something,” YP CTO Darren Clark told Street Fight in an email. “Reducing the time and effort between find and local commerce is what we do. Our integration with Uber underscores our commitment to taking the friction out of local commerce.”
The rise of Uber and other category-specific commerce applications pose a very real threat for search companies: the more people book taxis through Uber, the fewer are searching for taxi dispatchers on Yelp, Google and YP. According to Google Trends, the amount of searches for “Taxi San Francisco” has dropped materially since 2011.
Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.