“Will we Uber it?”, a line uttered around the country, thousands of times over any given weekend. In just a few short years Uber has worked its way into the public lexicon in much the same way that Kleenex took the name for tissue in the US, and google took the phrase “internet search” out of the public consciousness before it even got a chance to get there in the first place. Set up in 2009, this popular ridesharing company has taken over the world, or more specifically, taxi drivers worlds, around the planet, operating in over 600 cities and now offering UberEats, a food delivery service. It has faced resistance from numerous governments in Europe, including Germany, France and Ireland, while in South-East Asia they have agreed to remove themselves from the market and offer all remaining market share to Grab, a similar concept created in Singapore. But still they rule the world.
The past 6 months have seen 2 competitors announce themselves in the Australian market, Taxify and Ola, an Indian company already well established in their domestic market. Taxify launched around December 2017 offered cheaper fares, based on the lower commission they take from drivers, discounts to sign up and crucially at the time, no drivers! Christmas came along, a busy period for transport and a time when everyone would want to save money anywhere they can. Taxify promised and unfortunately, couldn’t deliver, literally. Services did improve in the new year and they continued to offer lower fares but just as they were gaining a stranglehold in the market, the newest kid in the playground came with money lining its pockets.
Ola, founded in 2011, have had to deal with Uber moving in on their market in 2013 and now 5 years later, they are returning the favour. With over 125 million users in India, it’s obvious they know what they’re doing and along with a heavy investment in marketing they are bringing their expertise to Australia. It’s very early days in their Australian adventure but having offered free rides and then 50% and 30% fares, they have aggressively undertaken Uber’s share as well as pushing Taxify further down the pecking order.
Nothing has been decided yet in this war, for that we’ll wait and see but maybe in a few months, when you’re heading out the door on another ill-advised work drinks, you’ll turn to that co-worker you never talk to and say “Will we Ola it?”