The red Lincoln Town Car idled in the rain near 51st Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City. It was 8 p.m., and driver Pargav Asatrian was waiting for a customer, a Philip Morris Co. employee bound for tony Montclair, N.J. The customer was already half an hour late. So Asatrian picked up a stylus and dashed off an e-mail on the keyboard of a tiny computer protruding from the dashboard. The device, connected to the Internet with a wireless modem, zapped the message to a dispatcher at Citicar Transportation in Queens. The response arrived a moment later: "Job canceled."

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