The sector of transportation is just another in a long hit parade of sectors massively disrupted by technology. Looking at the taxi industry, in particular, the entrenched taxi base has been combating the Uber effect with various tactics and techniques and with varying degrees of success.
Adapt or die
I’ve basically observed three different types of responses (not mutually exclusive) to the Uber threat:
- Scream bloody murder, go on strike and/or lobby to block (via legislative or political means)
- Up their own game (e.g. G7 in Paris which has its own app)
- Collaborate (e.g. Hailo in London)
A major fan of Uber and Lyft services, I have experienced their charms and pitfalls. Most recently, in one of the more surprising encounters, my Uber driver in Paris invited me for a home-cooked couscous (and he even called me after the ride was completed to insist on the invitation). This is more like the Craigslist spirit and symptomatic of a more convivial service that seems to bond both sides of the equation, from whichever corner of the world you hail (literally).
Un taxi s’il vous plaît ! Taxis in Paris
In Paris, meanwhile, I continue to use the taxi from time to time, even if only to check how the installed base is acting. How easily can a traditional taxi become a connected taxi network? The G7 taxi group, with 3,000 taxis nationally in France (compared to a total of 18,000 taxis ‘allowed’ in Paris), enjoys a rather embedded relationship with corporate France and is the dominant player in Paris. They now have their own specific G7 app that mimics the Uber app. They have segmented their offer and client types, including a WeCab taxi-sharing service to the airport, a Green Cab, a Maxi Cab (more pax) or an “international” VIP offer involving a partnership with (some) taxis in Brussels & Amsterdam. Some G7 taxis will even have a bottle of water to offer, too (much like UberX+). They have also said that the G7 taxis provide wifi and smartphone charging for their passengers. (more…)