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International Business and Media

In: Business and Management

Submitted By emuhamster
Words 1940
Pages 8
BUS 2240
News Article Assignment
Tap to hail
In ever more cities, smartphone apps are reshaping the taxi market
Oct 19th 2013 | LONDON AND NEW YORK |From the print edition * *
All hail the quick, reliable taxi
SINCE last month the citizens of Johannesburg have been able to hail and pay for taxis through SnappCab, a local start-up. A tap on SnappCab’s smartphone app summons a cab; a driver accepts on his own phone; and the passenger sees the driver’s name and photo, so he knows whom to expect and when. At journey’s end, he can pay with another tap through a pre-loaded credit card, or in cash. The idea is simple: the app makes it easier to bring together drivers, whose cabs are often empty, and passengers. Time and fuel are saved. Money is made.
In many other cities taxi apps have taken off rapidly. Hailo, founded in London by cabbies and techies three years ago, says 60% of the city’s black-cab drivers are now on its books. Several cabs are decked out in Hailo yellow. It has spread to 14 places, most recently Osaka in Japan. Uber began in 2009 in San Francisco, which has a shortage of taxis but a surfeit of geeks looking for problems to solve. Now it can find you a ride in 49 cities in 19 countries. GetTaxi, set up in Tel Aviv in 2010, has reached London, Moscow and New York. Local apps can be found in cities from São Paulo to Singapore. Besides SnappCab, Johannesburg has Uber and Zapacab (which also started in Cape Town earlier this year) plying for trade.
Apps have found willing backers. In August Uber raised a staggering $258m from a group of investors led by Google. Hailo has attracted $50m and GetTaxi $42m. But even with a full tank the journey is arduous. The road is strewn with regulatory obstacles. There are technical potholes too. Both SnappCab and Zapacab are supplying drivers with smartphones: cabbies in richer countries have their own....

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