Lyft has been the whimsical underdog of the transit space for a while now, overshadowed by the poster child of the space, Uber. Standing in Uber's extremely large shadow, Lyft has had to make a number of moves to differentiate itself over the years merely to survive, let alone to get to the level of competition with Uber that they're at now. Part of that has always consisted of cultivating a unique company image, and the familiar pink mustache has been the main vehicle for that goal in the past. That's right, the past; the storied 'stache is going into cold storage in favor of a new hardware device that drivers will be installing in their cars, called Amp.
The device itself is pretty simple, and is meant to make Lyft a bit more friendly and high-tech while helping passengers to spot their rides more easily. When a ride is ordered, the Amp device in the assigned Lyft vehicle will pick from its color selection, and that color will be shown in the Lyft app for the user. When the user spots a Lyft with that color beaming from the Amp in its front windshield, they know they've found their ride. When they get in, the Amp will confirm their pickup and display messages of thanks, hospitality, and welcoming. While this change alone doesn't guarantee happy drivers or fares, it's a step in the right direction, getting engagement off on the right foot as soon as a fare gets into a vehicle.
The launch of the Amp device, set to hit cars in select markets on New Years' Eve and spread from there, is the symbol of Lyft's transformation. They plan to keep their largely lighthearted and laid-back vibe, but to pair it with a reassuring dose of professionalism. Perhaps they've seen Uber use that approach successfully for too long, perhaps upper management has just decided it's time for a change, but the fact is that Lyft is changing their image to be a bit more professional, more clean. The video below is one of a series of commercials, four in total, that demonstrate Lyft's new attitude quite nicely. In these commercials, Lyft is seen as a maverick, albeit an efficient, safe, and respectful one. The fake company in the videos, all suits, ties, and concentrated laziness, could be a riff on the stiff and somewhat pretentious brand of professionalism so often seen in the real world, and it works nicely as a contrast to Lyft's smiling drivers and courteous, efficient treatment of their fares. The commercials show off Lyft's safety commitments, the ability to tip your driver from the app, and other aspects of the experience that make things easier for everybody while maintaining a somewhat professional, yet lighthearted air
The Amp device, arguably the mascot of this change of pace for Lyft, is set to make its way to all of Lyft's available markets throughout 2017. The device will also be picking up extra features over time, such as more colors, more personalized messages, and the ability to display logos, sports teams and the like. Given the tech sphere's love affair with the Internet of Things these days, these connected devices will no doubt find a large number of uses over time. For example, the devices sync to drivers' phones via Bluetooth. This could lead to the devices playing Lyft-approved music from playlists of the passenger's choice, for example, or breaking off from a paired phone to search for a fare's specific device when it gets near the pickup location, then giving the option to pair up to the fare's phone and allowing them to access a bevy of features to make their ride more comfortable. The possibilities are fairly expansive with this venture, and all things considered, Lyft seems to have picked up a pretty decent replacement for the old standby 'stache.