Friday, 1 February 2013

Taxi app wars waging on the streets of England

Kabbee logo
Kabbee facing competition
This week I heard of yet another cab app. Minicabit revealed itself at the Wayra Demo Day, joining a line-up of taxi and minicab apps that includes Hailo, Kabbee, and Anycabs, amongst a whole bunch of others.

In my mind, the world was divided three ways:
  • Hailo for instant black cabs
  • Kabbee for pre-booking minicabs
  • Uber, when you want a chauffeur-driven car
It seems I was wrong. There was already a bit of an overlap in the positioning since both Hailo and Uber are for immediate pick-ups, while Kabbee can also provide luxury transport and minicabs can be pre-booked for 'now'.

It turns out that the space that Kabbee seemed to occupy - pre-booked minicabs - is filled with other contenders. So I asked how do they differ from each other?
Apparently they're "all very different", says Anycabs. Here is how they each described themselves:
  • Kabbee: "instant quotes covering all of London from carefully managed fleets"
  • minicabit: "UK wide service that can instantly compare quotes with no wait for cabbies to bid"
  • Anycabs: "users compare real-time quotes & book their licensed minicab using app or website"
So I get that Kabbee is limited to London but from the consumer's perspective, I just don't see any other substantive difference. In each case, you enter details, select a quote and book your cab. With illegal minicabs posing risks to passengers, especially lone women at night, these apps ensure that you're booking with licensed firms. So each of them is providing safety and convenience.

I had a look on the App Store and found that there are several other alternatives offering a similar service. I'd forgotten that I have previously used ubiCabs too. I can't help but think that some of these businesses should be collaborating, working off the same tech platform and pooling resources to get UK-wide coverage fast, then expanding overseas. As it currently stands, there are few barriers to entry into this market, profit margins are likely to be thin and all it takes is for one well-funded foreign competitor to turn up and upset the handsome cab.