Uber is your on demand private driver. It is easy to use Uber: Need a private chauffeur? Launch the app and you can request for a ride. A base fee is charged on top of the distance of your destination. The US based company launched earlier this year in Singapore and we were delighted to have them come onboard as the official transport app for Echelon.
Following its launch in Singapore, Uber has since launched in Seoul, Korea and Taipei, Taiwan this week. According to TheNextWeb, the first customers to try out Uber’s black sedans in Taiwan were TV stars Ai Li Ke Si and Lisa Wang. Base fare starts at NT$126, compared to NT$70 for regular Taipei taxis. Each additional kilometer costs NT$30, compared to NT$20 for standard taxis.
Catherine Shu from TechCrunch also noted that in Taipei, Uber faces competition from taxi services like Taiwan Taxi, which charges standard taxi fares and which not only has its own smartphone app, but can also be hailed through phone or at a kiosk in any of the city’s ubiquitous 7-Elevens. It’s also extremely easy to hail down cabs by the side of the road, even during rush hour.
Like all businesses, they have their own competitors. While we have not heard much from Uber Singapore, five months after they launched, the taxi space in Southeast Asia is definitely seeing a lot of activities recently. Most recently, Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi received an additional US$15 million funding, intended for international expansion, improved customer service and new features. In Asia, Easy Taxi has operations in Malaysia and South Korea. Similar to traditional taxi booking apps, Easy Taxi enables passengers to book a cab straight and confirm pick-up and destination points right from their smartphones. Other than Easy Taxi, there are several other taxi booking apps in the region.
Personally, one quick litmus test for me to determine if a space has its potential is to see whether if Rocket Internet is exploring the space. Rocket Internet has one of the smartest teams and with excellent track record in building multi million dollar companies globally, they would have a good sense of which industries are ripe for disruption. The taxi space is definitely one of them.
While there is fierce land grabbing in the taxi space in Malaysia, it is interesting to note that Uber has chosen to forgo Malaysia for now. In case you haven’t been following the news, there are three main Taxi booking app in Malaysia now: TaxiMonger, MyTeksi, as well as HopCab. All three of them are currently focusing on signing up taxi drivers in Malaysia to use their taxi booking app.
According to TechCrunch, since Rocket Internet Easy Taxi’s launch in Malaysia, there have been rumors of its staff approaching cabs with MyTeksi decals and getting them to hop over to Easy Taxi instead. Sources close to the companies said that Easytaxi’s staff have also helped delete the MyTeksi app from drivers’ handsets, instead replacing them with Easytaxi’s app.
With the competition heading up in Malaysia, TaxiMonger has plans to expand out of its current base Kuala Lumpur, while MyTeksi is in the midst of raising its Series A, and has just expanded to Manila.
With several players in the taxi booking scene, Uber seems to forgo Malaysia for now to avoid competing heads on with other aggressive players in the space.
Singapore’s Split-It taxi sharing app launches premium service, brings the fight to Uber
Here in Singapore, while taxi booking app is mostly dominated by taxi operators, there was a rise in taxi sharing app end of last year. Split-It! and GoMyWay launched in hopes to allow Singaporeans to share taxi rides. While there has been no news from GoMyWay on how they are doing so far, with almost no activity on their social channels, Split-It has recently launched their premium private chauffeur service.
Split-It partners with Singapore based limousine service SiXT to bring the fight against Uber, as its premium service provide professional in Singapore the experience of a daily luxury commute, where they are chauffeured directly from their homes to their offices in upscale cars.
Unlike Uber, Split-It’s premium service adds a networking element to it: a chauffeur will pick you up at a fixed location and time everyday, along with the same one or two other passengers who lives in the area. Split-It claims that this “encourages professional networking”.
As I wrote in my previous article, the bigger question in this model would be the consumer’s acceptance to the idea of sharing taxis with complete strangers, something that comes more from a cultural approach rather than just on the opportunity to save cost.
Looks like Uber is facing some competition here in Asia. Will they be able to leverage on their success in US and grow their market share here in Asia? We’ll see, and we expect no lack of competition (and fight back) from Asia based startups.