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Uber在亚洲市场遭遇挑战 业务蔓延势头萎靡

Uber faces competition from local rivals in Asia

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核心提示:去年12月,从打车应用公司Uber泄露出来的文件显示,全球每周已有80万人次通过Uber进行叫车服务。我们可以肯定地说,这个数字现在
 
去年12月,从打车应用公司Uber泄露出来的文件显示,全球每周已有80万人次通过Uber进行叫车服务。我们可以肯定地说,这个数字现在又增长了不少。
但是不管它增长了多少,Uber的业务量与它在中国的主要竞争对手“快的打车”相比还是略显苍白。快的在中国以外几乎没有什么知名度,但是据说它的业务量每天最多能达到600万人次。因此从某种角度上来看,中国的电商巨头阿里巴巴投资的“快的打车”和腾讯公司投资的“嘀嘀打车”(嘀嘀的规模和业务量据说和快的差不多)才是打车应用程序界真正的王者。

 

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39岁的连续创业者、快的打车的联合创始人乔李(译音)表示:“这种交通服务在中国很有前途,目标市场非常非常大。”
要指出的是,快的打车的业务模式和Uber不太一样。快的打车应用程序现在已经拥有1亿名用户,不过它最主要的用途是用来在300多个中国最拥堵的城市里叫出租车。公司本身并不从中抽成,这款叫车应用程序也只不过是一个招揽用户的工具。
然而随着时间的推移,快的打车也希望利用“免费增值”模式,通过其庞大的用户群赚钱。今年夏天,快的在20个城市推出了豪车租用服务,可以说是针锋相对地与Uber的高端租车服务进行竞争。最终,快的打车希望将业务拓展到拼车、导游和快递服务领域,而这些也正是大多数交通类应用都虎视眈眈的领域。
那么,快的是如何在短短两年内,从零发展到1亿名用户,并拥有了100万名司机的呢?乔o李表示这要归功于中国特色——大城市交通拥堵,公共交通网络不完善,再加上有大量价格相对便宜的出租车,为这种叫车服务提供了得天独厚的条件。
另外补贴也起了一定帮助。为了扩展其网络,快的允许用户向出租车发送“愿意支付小费”的信息。这个简单的功能很快吸引来了大批司机,同时它也使乘车者的人数大幅增加,因为它解决了一个重要的问题:在很多城市,尤其是在高峰时段和恶劣天气时,对出租车的需求都超过了供给。乔o李表示:“我们用这个简单的功能推动了它的整体发展。”后来快的打车还为司机提供了另一项激励。如果使用快的打车应用程序内嵌的支付宝功能支付的话,公司会额外补贴1美元。
快的打车已经获得了超过1亿美元的融资,该公司还表示,它已经拥有了一个100万名司机的庞大网络。腾讯公司投资的嘀嘀打车也通过提供补贴,培养起了一个规模差不多的网络。快的和嘀嘀的互相较劲的补贴竞争已经升级成了价格大战,最终出钱的还是双方背后的大佬——阿里巴巴和腾讯。
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Uber
明显是作为一个弱者进入这个市场的,不过CEO特拉维斯o卡拉尼克表示,他很享受这个位置。
本周一,卡拉尼克在旧金山参加TechCrunch Disrupt峰会时表示:“我们必须要做小家伙,对我来说这就像回家一样。”
居住在上海的纪源资本(GGV Capital)合伙人符绩勋表示,快的和嘀嘀加起来,已经垄断了中国的交通类应用程序的大众市场。“在中国,真正的大众市场并不是Uber的豪车市场。”符绩勋本人也是新加坡打车应用程序GrabTaxi的投资人之一,GrabTaxi主要瞄准的是东南亚市场。符绩勋表示,中国企业面临的主要挑战,是要通过能与Uber的高端服务相比匹敌的新付费服务进入高端市场。相反,Uber则要付出一番努力才能获得中国老百姓的青睐。
从目前来看,Uber的表现还算不错。Uber大概一年前才在中国开始运营,现在它已经在北京、上海、成都等六个城市提供豪车出租服务。今年夏天,它又推出了稍便宜一些的Uber X服务。另外它还在北京推出了一项拼车服务,允许私人车主通过Uber与其他乘客拼车。
Uber的亚洲业务负责人艾伦o潘表示,Uber在上海推出的前六个月里,它的发展要比在纽约、巴黎和新加坡等地快得多,Uber在北京的使用率甚至还要更多。他说:“Uber以合理的费用提供了更高的品质标准。我们看到,Uber在中国的发展速度超过了它在任何一个国家的速度。”
目前看来,中国市场的庞大,让Uber有充足的空间和中国的竞争对手群雄逐鹿。不过随着Uber不断扩展其业务和足迹,以及本地企业对高端服务虎视眈眈,它们之间的冲突似乎不可避免,甚至有可能要在国内国外“两线作战”。快的打车的联合创始人乔o李表示,快的首先把目光锁定在中国,然后是中国的周边国家,最终可能还会在美国抢占一席之地。
目前看来,打车应用大战还主要集中在中国的大城市里,而且价格战有愈演愈烈之势。卡拉尼克认为:“最终我们会建立可持续性的业务。总而言之,我们会努力在中国提供最便宜、最可靠的叫车服务。它一定会变得很有意思。”

 

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In December, leaked Uber documents showed that the company was completing about 800,000rides a week around the world. It’s a safe bet that the number is much higher now.

No matter how big it has gotten, however, Uber’s ride volume pales in comparison with thenumbers of rides of its main Chinese rival, Kuaidi. That company, little known outside of China,is claiming up to 6 million rides every day. That makes Kuaidi, which is backed by Chinesee-commerce giant Alibaba, or perhaps rival Didi Taxi (which is backed by Tencent Holdings andboasts of a similar scale and footprint), the world’s king of the ride-hailing apps at least bysome measures.
 

“This kind of transportation service has a big future in China,” says Joe Lee, a 39-year-oldserial entrepreneur who is the co-founder of Kuaidi. “The addressable market is very verybig.”

To be sure, Kuaidi’s model is different from that of Uber. Its app, which counts 100 millionusers, is used mostly to hail taxis in some 300 of China’s notoriously congested cities. Thecompany makes no money from those rides, and the hailing app is nothing more than a tool toacquire customers.
Over time, however, Kuaidi is hoping to monetize its giant customer base with what it calls a“freemium” model. This summer, Kuaidi launched a luxury limo service in 20 cities thatcompetes directly with Uber’s high-end black cars. Eventually, it plans to extend into the kindof ride-sharing, courier and delivery services that appear to be on the sights of mosttransportation startups.
So how did Kuaidi go from zero to 100 million users, and a staggering 1 million drivers, in justtwo years? Lee says China’s characteristics—large, congested cities with poor public transitnetworks and massive fleets of relatively inexpensive taxis—were tailor-made for this kind ofservice.
Subsidies helped too. To expand its network, Kuaidi let customers signal to taxis that theywould add a tip to their fares. That simple feature quickly lured drivers, but it also dramaticallyexpanded the number of riders, as it solved a critical issue: at rush hour and during badweather, demand for taxis exceeds supply in many cities. “We used that simple function tokick-start the whole thing,” Lee says. Since then, Kuaidi added another incentive for drivers.On transactions that go through Alipay, a very popular payment service in China that is builtinto the Kuaidi app, the company will add an additional $1.
Kuaidi, which has raised more than $100 million, now claims 1 million drivers on its network.Didi has also grown its network to similar size by subsidizing rides. The competing subsidieshave led to a ruthless price war that is essentially financed by Kuaidi’s and Didi’s biggestbackers, Alibaba and Tencent.
Uber is entering this market as a clear underdog, a position that CEO Travis Kalanick says herelishes.
“We get to be the little guy,” Kalanick said on Monday during the TechCrunch Disrupttechnology conference in San Francisco. “For me that’s like homecoming.”
Jixun Foo, a partner with GGV Capital, who lives in Shanghai, says Kuaidi and Didi combinedhave cornered the mass market for transportation in China. “In China, the real mass market isnot an Uber black car market,” says Foo, who is an investor in Singapore based GrabTaxi,another cab-hailing firm focused on Southeast Asia. The challenge for the Chinese companies,Foo says, will be to move upmarket with new, paid services that compete with Uber premiumservice. Conversely, Uber will have a hard time gaining mass appeal in China, Foo says.
For now, Uber has done just fine. The company, which began operations there about a yearago, is offering its marquee black car service in six major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai andChengdu. This summer, it launched its less expensive Uber X service, and it began aride-sharing service in Beijing to allow private individuals to pick up passengers.
Allen Penn, who heads Uber’s business in Asia, says that in its first six months in Shanghai,Uber grew faster than it had after launching in New York, Paris or Singapore. Its adoption inBeijing was even faster. “Uber is offering a higher quality standard for a modest premium,”Penn says. “We are seeing growth that is outstripping anything we are seeing around theworld.”
The massive Chinese market seems to have enough room for Uber and its homegrown rivalsfor now. But the companies—with Uber set to expand its offerings and footprint, and the localplayers chasing premium services—are on a collision course in the world’s largest market, andperhaps, beyond. Kuaidi’s Lee says the company has its sights on China first, and neighboringcountries next. Eventually, though, it may seek a foothold in the United States.
For now, the battlefield is in China’s mega-cities wher the price wars are raging. “Ultimately youhave to have a sustainable business,” Kalanick said. “At the end of the day, we are going to tryto offer the cheapest most reliable rides in China. It’s going to be interesting.”
 


 

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