Taxi wars in Kenya are just starting. And if you’ve been on the inter-webs of late, you will agree with me that the uber – little cabs war is showing potential to be one of the most interesting corporate wars we’ve had in recent history. Let’s take a look:
Let’s go back to about a year ago when uber launched in Kenya. I don’t understand why kenyans have such a strong connection to western brands, but all the same, the excitement was palpable. Nairobians couldn’t wait to get that first free ride and sample this thing everyone was talking about.
Would it be as good as they say it is in the US? Would it even work here with our very segmented market and comparatively a small number of middle class citizens?
I had interacted with uber during a visit abroad, and I was really taken aback to how disturbingly efficient the service was. I mean an uber driver opened the door for me. Like wtf?
So I was really eager to see whether uber would replicate the same in our market. And skeptical as well. I just couldn’t see kamau wa taxi being as nice as the uber drivers i’d seen abroad.
Shock on me when I took that first free ride. To say they nailed eit would be an understatement: they absolutely nailed it. Jovial drivers, clean cabs, fair prices. aah. That was around the last time i ever called kamau wa taxi :(.
And at that point:
Uber 1 All other taxi companies 0.
In true copy-cat fashion, very many other taxi-hailing services launched. Now, pre-uber, a taxi hailing app was not a new idea, far from it. We already had a few companies doing exactly the same.
But they all lacked one thing. One very very important thing that I like to call The oomph.
The oomph is hard to describe, it’s just the oomph. You can’t explain the oomph but you can tell when it’s there. The kind of thing you see in your crush: you don’t what it is but they’ve got it :).
Using them didn’t cast that spell on you that makes you immediately call your friend, tell them to shut up and listen, as you proceed to wax lyrical about that company.
And customers who experience the oomph INSIST that their friends use that service.
In cometh Little cabs
Then the unexpected happened. Safaricom teamed up with little cabs to launch little cabs (now little). And oomph did they bring!
And to add to the fact that they were backed by safaricom and little cabs, two arguably succesful kenyan companies in their respective fields, only meant that we were in for an interesting ride.
Little cabs launched with the fairest pricing on their rides. Too fair that uber had to react by slashing their fares by 35%; which led to the drivers’ strike that ended just as quickly as it’d started. smh.
And when price wars happen, their is ever only one winner: the users.
Game changer: Dial a cab. (Ussd a cab)?
And as if that was not enough, little cabs have now built and launched a ussd platform for their cabs.
This is revolutionary.
I’m looking at that person in the rural area who has a smartphone, but hardly knows how to use and download apps. Doesn’t know what app crashes are and doensn’t understand why they need to use so many mbs to download an app.
That person who uses the 10mb safaricom bundle a day. And they just needs a taxi to attend to an emegency, e.g a sick relative who urgently needs to go to the hospital at 12am.
I’m looking at how they are used to dialing *144#, and how, with that same ease, they can dial *826#. And get a cab.
Uber 1 Little cabs 1. Game on.