Uber rides back from app to mobile browser for more passengers
The move by Uber is aimed at garnering more users from smaller towns where people like to use low cost smartphones and avoid downloading apps for fear of phones running out of memory.
Now one can hail a cab from Uber in India even without downloading its mobile application. San Francisco-based taxi hailing app Uber on Tuesday announced a new feature called 'Dial an Uber' which allows Indian users, especially those in areas with poor internet connectivity to hail a cab from their mobile browser.
The move by Uber is aimed at garnering new users to try its service without investing more dollars which were essentially used last year to offer free rides on app. Currently, it operates in 29 cities in India including many tier-II towns where it directly competes with home grown rival Ola Cabs.
“We began with introducing ‘Dial an Uber’ – as a pilot in four cities of Nagpur, Kochi, Guwahati, and Jodhpur to overcome the challenge of serving under all kinds of networks, especially low or poor connectivity. Buoyed by the overwhelming response, we are pleased to announce a national roll-out,” said Apurva Dalal, Head of Engineering, Uber India.
How it works
Uber’s new web app – dial.uber.com asks for a mobile number, email id or a Facebook account along with payment information of a user before he or she can request a cab. After requesting cab, the website instantly connects user with the driver over call to coordinate the pickup. Payment happens only in cash for such rides.
Uber has already invested about USD 1 billion in India, till last year. Most of it was used in promotional activities such as incentives for riders and drivers. According to estimates, India’s smartphone population is expected to grow to 500 million from the 350 million users within the next two years. However, only a fraction of this user base currently uses taxi hailing apps.
Majority of India’s urban population relies on buses, auto rickshaws, private cars and bikes to commute intra-cities. Companies such as Jugnoo, Uber, Ola and Shuttl are trying to change user behavior by aggregating the modes of transportation through technology.