Lyft Gives Up Pink Mustaches To Challenge Uber In New York City...The Lyft Inc. application (app) is demonstrated on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Lyft Inc. is taking its ride-sharing service into New York this week and is abandoning its trademark pink mustaches in the process, taking on rival Uber Technologies Inc. in one of the biggest U.S. markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Downloads of Lyft's app have surged past those of rival Uber © Bloomberg

Lyft, the US transportation company, has surged past its rival Uber in iPhone downloads for the first time, as anger over Uber’s perceived ties to the Trump administration have fuelled a backlash.

An internet campaign urging passengers to “#deleteUber” that went viral over the weekend has started to have an impact on downloads, as passengers switch to Lyft, Uber’s San Francisco-based rival.

While Uber has often been criticised for its brazen approach to regulation, the recent uproar was sparked instead by the company’s ties to the Trump administration, as chief executive Travis Kalanick serves on President Donald Trump’s business advisory council.

Protesters also accused Uber of trying to break up an anti-Trump taxi strike at New York’s JFK airport on Saturday, an allegation based on a misunderstanding that nevertheless spread across social media.

Data from two mobile analytics companies showed Lyft overtaking Uber in the Apple app store for iPhone users for the first time. Data from App Annie showed that Lyft was the most downloaded free travel app on Sunday, while data from Mobile Action suggested that Lyft had overtaken Uber on Monday.

Apple’s own rankings showed that Lyft was the fourth-most downloaded app on Monday, ahead of Uber. A similar shift was not visible in downloads by Android users on the Google Play store.

Top trending hashtags on Twitter in recent days have included “#deleteUber” and “#BoycottStarbucks”.

Starbucks found itself at the centre of online attacks after some people were offended by chief executive Howard Schultz’s pledge to hire 10,000 refugees globally over five years. Mr Schultz was responding to Mr Trump’s travel ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Mr Schultz said the US would be the initial focus of hiring efforts that would centre on people that served with US troops as interpreters and support personnel.

But the coffee chain was decried for helping immigrants over veterans, with some threatening to take their business to rival Dunkin’ Donuts. Starbucks has an active plan in place to employ 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.

Uber and Lyft, valued at $70bn and $5bn respectively, have been locked in fierce competition for the past four years. Underdog Lyft is eyeing ambitious expansion in the US this year.

The surge in Lyft downloads will be a welcome boost for a company that has sometimes found itself on the back foot and has seen mounting losses as competition with Uber intensifies.

Both companies have criticised Mr Trump’s immigration order. Uber was one of the first tech companies to speak out, saying it would compensate drivers who were affected. Mr Kalanick said he would raise the issue with Mr Trump on Friday during a meeting of the business advisory council.

However, that was not enough to assuage the anger of protesters, including celebrities, who saw the “#deleteUber” campaign as a way to express their outrage over the president’s immigration order.

Lyft pledged to donate $1m to the American Civil Liberties Union and expressed outrage over the immigration order. “We stand against these actions and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community,” Lyft’s founders said.

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