Just last week, we asked you to choose between ride-hailing rivals Uber and Grab.
While there’s a difference of around 100 votes, gauging from regular check-ins on the poll’s progress – the fight is pretty close.
It’s not surprising, given that both provide more-or-less similar services, and have been spoiling (and luring over) customers with promo codes and convincing copies for their new campaigns.
Going down the list of services each provides, there’s an almost-perfect match for every service – save for carpooling.
While Grab’s existing service GrabHitch can technically be referred to as a ‘carpool’ service, it works off the age-old model of friends/acquaintances hopping onto the same vehicle while heading to the same destination.
It works off a not-for-profit basis, meaning that drivers who opt for the pool option probably won’t be using their daily commute as a lucrative side-business.
Uber’s uberPOOL, however, works pretty much like their UberX service – except that private-hire drivers now also pick up other passengers along the way.
Launched on 1 July, I think that by now, it’s safe to say that there’s a fair number of Singaporeans whom have already gotten well-acquainted with the service – albeit carpooling with strangers being a relatively new concept.
1 in 3 UberX rides are reportedly engaged in the pool option.
Now, according to sources, Grab is looking to launch a new service, GrabShare, which has a similar model to uberPOOL.
Launch Could Be In Next Few Weeks
According to The Straits Times’ sources, the launch of the GrabShare service could be in the next few weeks, and Grab drivers have revealed that “since last month, the firm has been notifying them about GrabShare via e-mail, and requiring them to undergo training”.
The currently-standing GrabHitch service is also reported to continue in light of Share’s launch.
However, the uncanny similarities between the GrabShare and uberPOOL models have already been noticed.
Said private-hire car driver Chase Phang to The Straits Times, “GrabShare seems like the same product to compete with UberPool.”
Another Win For Consumers?
What Grab’s upcoming product could mean for consumers is a new carpool option for those who are already Grab devotees, but also those who simply want the best of both ride-hailing worlds.
For a typical Singaporean consumer, the option that gives better value for one’s money is the ‘right’ one, and the two ride-hailing giants have definitely got that memo, with the term “affordable” and “cheaper” used in their carpool pitches to consumers, and promo codes generously generated in regular iterations.
However, according to Assistant Professor Yang Nan, from the National University of Singapore Business School’s strategy and policy department, the rise of a similar offering, while giving more options to consumers, might be a bane in the long run.
“When product offerings become more similar, it is usually pretty bad news for the competing firms. If differentiation fails… competition often comes down to price wars. […] In the long run, if the mark-ups are so thin that firms can’t survive on them and the market becomes too concentrated, it’s probably not good for consumers.”
It’s still too early in the game to predict the eventual fate of the companies and the transport industry in general, but for now, it’ll be interesting to see what other new concepts they will come up with.
Watch this space for updates.
Feature Image Credit: ibtimes.ph