When I saw from afar that Uber had a booth at the Consumer Electronics Conference in Las Vegas, I rushed over to check out what they had on the display.
As soon as I rounded the corner from the big sign though, I instantly realised my mistake:
Exhausted and addled from a morning running around Vegas, I hadn’t registered the umlaut over the U or the suspiciously pink branding. This Uber wasn’t that Uber.
When I asked the spokesperson at the booth which brand came first, she said that the two actually debuted within a week of each other.
“Right after our launch, we found out about them,” she said.
Because one works in the automotive industry and the other is a division within GE-branded product company Jasco which makes brightly coloured chargers and fitness devices, the dual names didn’t really cause problems.
Fast-forward a few years, though, and the situation has brought its ups and downs, the spokesperson says.
However, it can be useful at events like CES, bringing foot traffic over the the booth.
Like last year, when Nevada was holding strong on its ban of the ride-hailing startup (Uber and Lyft just became legal in Vegas this September).
“A lot of people came up to our booth and asked what we thought about not being allowed in Vegas for CES. And we just had to say, ‘Well, we’re not that Uber,'” the spokesperson said.
But although the team couldn’t provide an answer to anyone’s juicy regulatory questions, people usually stayed around to look at the products anyway.
When I admitted that brand confusion was what brought me to the booth in the first place too, she laughed.
In case your curious, here’s some of what The Other Uber sells:
And here’s another sign, which should probably include the secondary definition, “Also the name of one of the biggest startups in the world”: