Week 4: Critique on Obike

I have been a weekly active user of Obike over the past few months but the presentation last night brought up some refreshing insights that the group had and was good food for thought.

The Deposit Trap

The presenting team brought up two points on how 1) the deposit requirement doubly functions as a user trap and 2) the student discount was a great incentive for students to choose oBike over their competitors.  This is a great business move as they can trap in majority of the student population, who are arguably pivotal for the business to gain more market share as youths are generally more willing to try such sharing schemes and in turn recommend to their older family members. Once these students pay the discounted deposit, they are more or less locked in with oBike as what the presenter says, despite Mobike / ofo being known for having better bikes, there is too much inertia for the user to change (which I can support from personal experience).

The user lock-down implies that whoever gets the users first, pretty much conquers the market.

Cluttered UI

They had a good point about the UI being super cluttered which makes it hard for a user to understand what’s going on. They focussed on the map UI for displaying bike locations but I felt that for oBike the availability is so high + there are easily accessible hotspots for bike parking that I never had the need to use the locations feature. Most of the time I see the bike first before opening the app to unlock the bike. I would think that a mix of both large icons for areas which have sparse oBikes around and small icons, as suggested by the presenting group, for areas which are densely packed with oBikes may be more beneficial.

The presenting group was right about pointing out that the huge advertisement bar blocking out most of the map UI is mainly a nuisance to the user and reduces the user experience instead.

Locker system

Not very useful as the main selling point of oBike is not being restricted by where you pick up / leave behind a bike. It’s expensive as well to maintain such lockers. Bicycle rental services overseas are largely burdened by the legislation / costs of rental space for their bike parking spots, as well as not being able to get users easily due to users having restricted to fixed spots. Having a locker system might go against oBike’s key differentiator against the standard bike sharing scheme. Also, a significant portion of bikes come with a decently sized basket, which should remove most of the need for a baggage storage space.

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What I hope to learn in CS3216

I hope that by the end of this course, I will be able to learn more efficiently than before, knowing where to look and how far to research into a particular topic.

I also hope that through this experience, I will be able to learn how to work better in teams comprising of people from different disciplines, and at the same time, understand how to leverage each other’s abilities to the best.

Lastly, I hope to learn to be more adaptable, being able to react to sudden changes quickly and accordingly with a decent solution.