Scoot Networks is a new startup that wants to have the user friendliness of Zipcar, the technological benefits of the iPhone, and the societal culture of China. The company has pioneered a system that allows users to rent electric scooters by the hour, for simple tasks like running to the store. The company has purchased a bunch of the same-model scooters in bulk, stripped out the console, and wired it so that a user’s iPhone becomes the brain of the vehicle.
The iPhone is what unlocks the scooter, and will only work if the iPhone is tied to the user who made the reservation. Of course, the downsides are that it can only go 30 miles per hour, you can’t take a group of friends with you, and you have nowhere to store stuff. On the other side, it’s much cheaper, so the idea is to charge users $100 to $150 a month for unlimited scooter access. That same fee will only get you one or two days with a Zipcar.
This idea will probably work for San Francisco, but the question is whether or not it can really have a national presence. Other major cities, like New York City, would never be a fit for the program. Perhaps Washington DC and maybe a couple tertiary cities like Portland or Seattle. It’s a neat concept, but the use of electric scooters is a very regional thing. It’ll be interesting to see if Scoot Networks can expand that scope.