Creating an app like Uber can cost anywhere from 50k-300k, depending on how complex the app is going to be.
Specifically, the end-to-end development process for a ridesharing app like Uber is complex and involves a lot of moving parts.
This article is a complete guide to developing an Uber-like app. We’ll begin by examining what makes Uber so successful, and everything that goes into the Uber app development cost.
We’ll also talk about how to monetize an Uber-like app, so you can have a better idea about how to recoup your initial costs for developing the app.
At the end, we’re answering common FAQs about the entire process.
A Close Look at Uber & Its Success
Just a few years ago, Uber was a small startup with big ambitions.
Today, it’s the most well-known ridesharing company on the planet and one of the most valuable unicorns — privately held startups valued at over $1 billion — in history. The company posted revenue of $9.2 billion in Q2 2023, and is rebounding nicely from the ups and downs of pandemic travel.
How did Uber get here, and what makes it so successful? Understanding that is the first step to creating a successful Uber clone app.
What is Uber?
American company Uber Technologies Inc. is a multinational ride-hailing service that offers peer-to-peer ridesharing, ride service hailing, food delivery, and a micro-mobility system with electric bikes and scooters.
The company is based in San Francisco. With a presence in over 84 countries and more than 674 cities around the globe, the San Francisco-based startup is among the most popular on-demand transportation apps in the world.
How Does Uber Work?
Unlike traditional transportation providers like the taxi industry, the company itself doesn’t have a fleet of vehicles and employed drivers.
Instead, it offers a platform that connects passengers with drivers.
As an Uber driver or passenger, you can use the app to request or offer rides through the ridesharing app.
Uber then handles all payment transactions. Drivers are paid daily, and riders pay their fares through the app using a linked credit card or other forms of payment.
A Brief History of Uber
In the early days of the Uber mobile app, founder Travis Kalanick was solving a personal problem: he wanted to get a ride after a night out at the movies with friends, but taxis were scarce in San Francisco at the time.
He and his cofounder, Garrett Camp, decided to create an app where drivers could connect with riders who needed to go somewhere by car. Thus, Uber launched the ridesharing industry.
UberCab officially launched in June of 2010. The first version of the app allowed users to order a black luxury car for pick up within 10 minutes.
In late 2010, the company changed its name from UberCab to Uber and rebranded itself as simply a technology platform that enabled anyone with a car — from luxury cars to regular everyday cars — to provide rides for others in their city or town.
What Makes Uber So Successful?
From the start, Uber’s goal was to make getting a ride as easy as possible for the user. Here are some ways Uber has made it simple:
Requesting a ride takes just three taps of the smartphone screen. Entering credit card information is also made simple by using existing information stored in the user’s phone or iTunes account.
No cash payment required
Payment is done automatically through the credit card on file with Uber, so users don’t have to worry about cash or having the right amount of change available to pay their driver.
One tap ordering
Users can set up a “favorite” location in their account settings or through Google maps, so they only need one tap to request a ride to that location. This is helpful for requesting rides home from work or other locations they go frequently.
Leaning Into Mobile Tech Like Google Maps
The Uber app was one of the first successful companies to fully embrace mobile technology.
The company doesn’t have any physical offices or stores – everything, from booking rides to paying drivers and managing accounts, is done through the Uber app on your mobile device.
This has helped the company expand into new markets quickly because it doesn’t have to deal with licensing and permits required for taxis in different areas.
Cloud-Based Model and Global Expansion
The company is able to operate in so many different cities because its cloud-based business model allows them to expand at a rapid rate.
Generally, when an established company wants to expand, they have to take the time and energy to create local offices or hire local managers.
But with Uber’s cloud-based model which integrates solutions like Google Maps, they simply have to establish a local presence on their website and advertise their services in the new city.
Their cloud-based platform allows them to easily connect drivers with customers without having to worry about a physical office location.
This has also allowed for a large number of potential employees — because anyone can drive for Uber (as long as they meet the company’s basic requirements), the company has thousands of drivers available at any time.
Independent Contractors, Not Employees
If you’re an Uber driver, you work for yourself. That means you don’t have to pay income tax, and there are no other expenses on your end to take care of, which is a major draw because drivers aren’t required to do anything they don’t want to.
This allows them to make money when it’s convenient for them, but this also means that they can go pick up their kids from school and then turn around and drive during rush hour if they want.
Uber’s Groundbreaking Pricing Strategy
Uber’s pricing strategy is a master class in effective operations management.
First, Uber’s variable pricing model allows them to price dynamically.
In other words, they can adjust prices based on demand and the supply of drivers in real-time.
For example, surge pricing during peak hours ensures that Uber has enough drivers available to service all the customers who want rides at that time. When there aren’t as many drivers on the road, surge pricing encourages more drivers to get out on the road so that they can take advantage of higher rates.
This dynamic pricing strategy also helps Uber in another way.
Because they know what their customers are willing to pay at different times of the day and different days of the year, they can predict their profits more effectively than if they used a fixed-price strategy.
This allows them to make better pricing decisions and improve their profitability.
A Robust Online Presence
Uber leveraged social media very well early on. To this day, Uber maintains an active and engaging online presence.
They started with Facebook and Twitter, understanding that social media was the perfect way to reach a younger crowd, one that is perfectly suited to their business model. They understood the medium so well, in fact, that they had their first 1,000 Twitter followers after just nine days of being active on the site.
Nowadays, Uber has over 1.3 million followers on Twitter and over 7.5 million likes on Facebook. They also have a significant presence on Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn as well. All of these platforms have helped Uber expand its business and create additional revenue opportunities for itself.
Uber Knows Its Target Market Like No Other
This is why the company took the time to understand its target market and how it could offer something that would appeal to both sides.
Uber also recognized that there were two distinct markets, so it was important to cater to both types of people: Uber drivers and Uber riders.
Drivers want a quick way to earn some money. They want something flexible where they can work when it suits them and not have to show up at an office every day.
Riders want an easy way to get from A to B without having to drive themselves or wait for public transport. They also want something affordable and convenient, which is exactly what Uber offers.
What Can Businesses Learn from Uber?
While Uber’s success is impressive, many of its tactics can be used by other businesses seeking to grow their customer base.
This also applies to anyone who wants to develop an app like Uber.
Here’s a closer look at six strategies that every business can learn from Uber:
- Focus on the customer experience.
- Make your product easy and convenient to use.
- Be transparent about price and quality.
- Provide excellent customer service and support.
- Offer flexibility and personalization options.
- Partner with others in your industry for mutual benefit.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of what makes Uber tick, let’s talk about what it takes to create your own and break into the taxi app market.
Creating an Uber App Clone: App Development Breakdown
Developing an Uber app clone involves multiple stages and costs.
A developer can’t provide an accurate estimate of the cost to build an app like Uber without reviewing all the specifics. First, let’s look at the basic elements of an app like Uber.
Rider, Driver, and Payment Elements
Passenger App Elements
Uber’s rider app needs to provide the following features for the users:
- Sign up and log in using email, phone number or social media accounts.
- Request a ride by specifying the pickup and drop-off points along with the type of vehicle required.
- Send special instructions to the driver if necessary.
- Track the driver’s location as he comes to pick them up.
- Pay for the ride through cash or credit card.
- Identifying the user’s precise location data.
- Rate drivers and leave feedback on drivers and rides.
Uber Driver App Elements
Uber’s driver app offers the following features for drivers:
- Register with their name, address, phone number, bank account details, etc.
- Specify their vehicle type, make and model, etc. during registration.
- Receive push notifications when a rider requests a ride nearby.
- Accept or reject specific ride requests based on their availability and other factors.
- Use GPS navigation to navigate to pick up and drop off locations.
- Send push notifications to riders if they need directions or have questions about pickups.
- Receiving promo codes and discounts.
- A driver admin panel development section.
There are two types of payments that an Uber-like app will include:
- Driver payment system (“driver wallet”)
- Customer payment system (“customer wallet”)
Some great features to include in ride-sharing apps are:
- In-app payment process for both drivers and riders
- In-app wallet funding
- Process credit card data
- Linking to debit cards, credit cards, and bank accounts
- Card scanning
- Cashless transactions
- Identify pickup location for surge pricing and high demand moments
- Different payment gateway providers (PayPal, bank account, etc.)
- Recurring payments
- Specific payment options for the Android version and iOS version of the app
- Personal data management for user apps
- Split payments
- Corporate billing option
- Ability to withdraw earnings for drivers
- Automatic computations (for fares, tips, taxes, discounts, etc.)
- Security systems
- Fraud detection
Native, Hybrid, or Mobile Web Development?
There are three main approaches to creating mobile apps:
- Native app development
Each of the major platforms — e.g. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android — has a different suite of tools for developing software, as well as its own programming language for Android and iOS app development.
- Hybrid app development
They’re not “real” native apps in that they don’t use the same languages or tools as native apps; however, they can be downloaded from an app store and installed on a device like a real app.
- Mobile web development
These are just regular websites that have been optimized for mobile devices. They don’t live inside an app store but instead function independently using a mobile browser.
Native apps are generally more expensive than just creating a mobile-friendly web app, but they’re the best option when you want to make an app like Uber.
UX and UI Design
UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) design are critical aspects of any mobile application, especially for Uber like apps.
This is one of the most important elements to invest in when calculating your budget for app development.
In fact, according to a report published by Localytics, almost 40% of users will abandon an app if it takes too long to load or the UI is unattractive.
Another survey conducted by Adobe revealed that 62% of users agree that an attractive UX/UI design can make them trust a company more.
UI Design of an App like Uber
User Interface (UI) is responsible for the look and feel of the app. It determines how comfortable users are going to be with using it. If it’s not user-friendly, even though your app idea is brilliant, you’ll be facing a dead end.
While working on the functionality of your app, you should always keep in mind that the content should be delivered in a manner that can be easily understood and accessed by users.
The elements which make up a user interface design of an application include:
The layout defines how all the elements are arranged on the screen. It also involves how information is organized and presented to the user.
How a user interacts with an app is key to its success. Responsive design makes users feel more involved in their actions and hence, more inclined to use the app again and again.
- Visual design
Visual design covers everything from colors and fonts to buttons and icons used in the app. When used properly, striking visual elements help make an app stand out from the competition.
The final list will depend on what you want out of your app.
UX Design of an App like Uber
Designing and developing a mobile app for a service like Uber is not confined to just aesthetics or functionality.
The UX design of an app like Uber should enable users to book rides, receive notifications and make transactions without hindrances.
This means that the interface has to be designed in a way that enables easy navigation and minimum distraction.
Users should be able to navigate through the app effortlessly without any hindrances. Using buttons with clear instructions will help them achieve this easily.
- Booking interface
The booking interface should be concise and simple so that it makes ride-booking easier for all sorts of age groups, including senior citizens.
- Payment method
It should be as easy as possible for your customers to pay, and for the drivers to withdraw their earnings.
If users don’t enjoy interacting with your application, they are likely to delete it and look for a substitute.
That’s why successful apps like Uber invest heavily in the UX and UI elements of their application.
The Development Team
Now that you’re aware of what functions and tech stack your app needs to have, it’s time for the most important part to develop any software: finding the right people to do the work.
The more functions your app has, the more developers you will need to hire.
A large-scale app with all the features of Uber will require around 10-15 developers depending on their skill level and experience in their field.
An Uber clone app dev team generally has the following members:
- Project Manager
A Project Manager has the responsibility of managing the entire Uber clone project, from planning to execution. They have to coordinate with all the teams and make sure all tasks are completed timely..
- Design Team
The design team consists of UI/UX designers, graphic designers, and front-end developers. They handle the creative part of the Uber-like app development process and make sure that the app is visually appealing & user friendly.
- Back-End Devs
The back-end team builds software components for server-side logic, data storage, security, and networking. They work on programming languages like Java or Python, frameworks like Node.js or Meteor etc, and databases like MySQL, MongoDB etc.
- Front-End Devs
- QA Engineers
QA engineers test your apps manually and make sure everything’s working.
Finally, you have several options when hiring an app developer.
You can hire an in-house team, but expect that to be incredibly expensive.
Freelancers are another option, but the quality and commitment from individual contractors can be a hit and miss.
Mobile app development agencies generally offer the best balance of cost-effectiveness and quality, but you need to make sure you choose a reputable development company.
Mobile App Testing
Once the app is developed, it should be tested. The app testing phase is a long process that requires a great deal of time and effort, but it’s absolutely critical for an app like Uber.
This stage includes the following steps:
- Functional testing
The team tests the functionality and behavior of all major functional components of an app to ensure it works as intended.
- Usability testing
The devs test the interface of an app to make sure that it meets user expectations in terms of navigation and design.
- Performance testing
The development team checks how well an application performs in various conditions — for example, during peak usage or when running on low battery power — to ensure it will work well under any circumstances.
- Security testing
The development team performs security tests to check how safe an application is from possible threats, such as hacks or frauds.
- Compatibility testing
The development team makes sure that an application works as expected on different devices with different operating systems and screen resolutions.
Extensive testing is an essential part of creating any app and should be a major part of any app development budget.
The post-development stage of this continuum often gets overlooked, but it’s critical for the success of your app.
We’re talking about ongoing expenses of having your own Uber app like:
- App platform fees
Apple and Google both get a cut of your revenue for hosting an iOS and Android app.
- App maintenance
Most apps require regular upkeep to stay in tip-top shape.
Every time a user has a problem with the app, it can cost you business and damage your reputation, so you’ll want to address problems quickly — that means good support staff and skilled developers. You also have to keep up with security updates and changes to the operating system.
- Updates to app features
Unless you just want your app to stagnate in the app store, you’ll need to keep coming up with new features and benefits for users to stay ahead of the competition — that means more development hours for your Android or iOS app.
- Continuing QA
It takes time and effort to ensure that all of these updates work as intended without breaking something else along the way — that means more testing hours.
- Other fees
Depending on how big your team is and what kind of help you need, there might be more expenses related to marketing, design, legal advice and other elements of your app.
The more of these advanced features you have on your Uber clone app, the better.
A very basic app with limited functionalities can be done on a $50, 000 budget or less.
A feature-rich app that’s closer to Uber can cost you upwards of $100K to $300K or more.
At this point, you may be asking: is it worth it to develop an app like Uber?
Uber is Now Worth $67.8B
As of February 2022, Uber Technologies is now worth more than $67B and rising.
Its IPO was one of the most successful of all time, right after tech giants like Facebook and Google.
Today, the company operates in nearly 800 countries around the world and has since expanded its services to food delivery, package delivery, and more.
The reason? They invested in building an amazing app, and continue investing to make sure it stayed competitive as the market grew.
So yes, if your long-term goal is explosive profitability and growth, then developing an app like Uber is definitely worth it.
BONUS: How to Monetize an Uber-Like App
Now that you’ve taken the time to develop a great product, how do you make it pay off?
Uber’s ecosystem includes many revenue sources — from drivers using their cars to make money on the side, to customers using the app and paying for rides, to employees using the app to work for Uber, or even Uber itself directly.
Charging an App Commission
For the case of ridesharing, this would be the commission from all trips completed.
This is the most obvious revenue stream because it comes directly from the company’s core business. For example, Uber charges a percentage for all rides made through their platform.
This approach is more complicated but more effective in some cases.
With paid subscriptions, you can offer users a choice between paying per ride or paying monthly/annually for unlimited trips. This allows users to choose a plan that suits them the best, while your business grows through both monetization channels.
You can offer a variety of ride options for different prices. For example, Uber offers UberPool, UberX and UberBlack.
Each tier has its own price range and features. Tiered pricing allows riders to choose what they need. At the same time, it increases your revenue because riders are willing to pay more for certain features.
Although your app should have basic features that are free, you may want to add some premium features that allow users to pay an extra fee to use these features exclusively.
In the case of Uber, this could be an option for high-end vehicles or special services like massages or food delivered along with the ride.
For other ridesharing apps focused on specific groups, this could include more luxurious classes of vehicles or special services for groups like carpooling or children’s car seats.
Sponsorship and Branding Collaborations
Sponsorship and branding collaborations are good business models to monetize a ridesharing app like Uber. For example, you can offer others to use the back of your driver’s cars as advertising space in exchange for the money.
To make this type of monetization profitable, you should have a large number of drivers who are willing to advertise products on their cars.
Advertising on the App
Uber also makes money by selling branded ads on its platform to other companies that want to reach their millions of users.
For instance, Starbucks offers deals for a free coffee when you take five rides with Uber within 30 days using your Starbucks Rewards Visa Card.
Another example is when Sony Pictures was promoting the Men In Black: International movie by offering free rides in MIB branded vehicles during the opening weekend of the film in June 2019.
Offer “Branded” Cars and Expanded Services
Instead of sticking to a standard car-hailing application, you can always go big and create a luxury ridesharing service. This business model is already used by several companies such as Uber Black, Luxe, Silvercar and others.
If you decide to offer upscale car-booking experiences, there are several options for monetization:
- Charge higher rates for rides or require drivers to pay a percentage of their earnings per month.
- Offer drivers subscriptions for premium membership.
- Sell advertising space in your app (if you have a huge user base).
Like Uber, you can also expand into other services like food delivery and freight services.
Offer Corporate Subscriptions
The idea is simple: instead of charging individual users for every ride, offer companies an opportunity to pay for a corporate subscription.
This way, their employees will be able to use your ridesharing service at no cost to them.
Corporate subscriptions work best if your target user base is strongly divided into two groups: individuals who need a ride now and again, and business people who travel regularly on their company’s expense account.
For example, in London (UK), corporate clients make up around 75% of all Uber rides.
Set up a Ridesharing Rewards System
A loyalty program is an excellent way to make customers fall in love with your brand and keep coming back for more.
You can offer customers free rides or discounted rides when they share their feedback with you or refer the app to their friends and family members.
Charge for Integration
If you have developed an app, it can be integrated with other systems or apps to improve their functionality.
For example, you can create partnerships with other transportation companies, hotels or restaurants and offer your customers special offers or discounts for using their services.
White label and SaaS solutions
If you have developed an app with all the necessary functions, you can use it as a basis for creating a new solution for another client.
This method is called white label and SaaS (software as a service) solution. You can offer it at a fixed price or charge users per month depending on the number of active users they have.
Ultimately, the revenue model of your app is up to you. Here’s a deeper look into app monetization to help you narrow down your options.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much did it cost to start Uber?
Uber was started in 2009 by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, who each invested $200K at the time. They also raised $1.25M from their angel investors before raising another $11M from Benchmark Capital in 2010.
Finally, Uber raised an additional $37M from Google Ventures in 2013. The total cost of developing Uber was approximately $49M over a period of four years (2009-2013).
How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?
According to research, the development costs of an app can be between $25,000 and $50,000 for a small project and more than $1 million for a large project. And these are just average figures that don’t include licensing fees or other expenses.
How much does it cost to build an app like Lyft?
Note: These are ballpark, sample figures. To get an accurate idea of costs, get a project quote from your developers.
The development team for a ridesharing app like Lyft will include an iOS or Android developer ($75-$100 per hour), a back-end developer ($55-$105 per hour), a designer ($40-$75 per hour), QA engineer ($30-$50 per hour) and a project manager ($70-$130 per hour).
An app like Lyft may be developed within 1000-2500 hours.
Thus, the overall budget can vary between $55K and $200K.
How much is Uber Technologies worth 2020?
In 2020, Uber was worth $11.139 billion.
How much is Uber net worth 2021?
In 2020, Uber was worth over $20 billion.
Has Uber made a profit?
Yes, and it’s now one of the most valuable privately held companies in the world.
It’s now worth nearly $68 billion and has operations in nearly 100 countries.
In addition, Uber is planning to increase profits using an aggressive expansion strategy that includes new products like Uber Eats and Uber Freight, as well as its acquisition of Otto, which is working on self-driving trucks.
The company also acquired Jump Bikes, a dockless electric bike-sharing startup. And it continues to innovate with a flying car project called Uber Elevate.
Get a FREE Quote on Your Uber App Clone
And that’s that! We hope this has helped you get a better idea about what it takes to develop an app like Uber.
With the current economic climate looking brighter, we can expect good things from the future of on-demand transportation apps and services.
Get in touch with Dom & Tom today if you want to learn more about developing your own Uber-like app!
Our team has all the required skills to build complex web and mobile apps, with all the bells and whistles. We’ll also help you arrive at the perfect budget without compromising the quality of your app.