Uber just released its latest offering and the idea is mindblowing in its simplicity and audacity. The problem was simple: How to expand in an emerging market with plenty of low end smartphones, with users either unwilling or unable to install their app, and suspicious of giving their details to an app? The answer was just as simple: Take away the app. Uber has just launched Uber Dial, their one-stop website to help you book rides right from your mobile/tablet browser.
The process of booking a cab through the Uber Dial website is simplicity in itself. On navigating to dial.uber.com, you are first presented with a landing page outlining the process, followed by a page asking you for your phone number.
Once you give the website the permission to detect your location, it immediately shows you the nearest cab available and the relevant rate card. On booking, you can then contact your driver, or cancel your trip. Cancellations later than five minutes will make you incur a Rs 50 cancellation fee on your next ride.
Their website says that the service is available in Nagpur, Kochi, Guwahati, and Jodhpur, but I was able to book a ride in Bangalore as well.
Uber had already partnered with various chat applications (like HelpChat) to let users book cabs without having the app. Uber and Ola ride waiting times have been a standard feature on the Google Maps app for a while now. But this is the first time you can book a cab with nothing other than your web browser, opening up a ton of possibilities!
What can we expect in the future? Smartphone users without the Uber app will no doubt be bombarded with SMS blasts over the next few months touting Uber Dial along with perks. We might even be able to see ATL marketing in newspapers and even a billboard or two! Where Uber goes, Ola is never far behind. We can definitely expect a similar service to be launched by Ola in the next few days. In fact, remembering how quickly they launched their two wheeler rental service in response to Uber Moto, I’m surprised they don’t have a rival site up already! Until this battle finds an end, the customer is King. Users can expect more incentives to get their friends and family on the new service. Uber will definitely not miss a trick and will no doubt add a “First Ride Coupon” option to Uber Dial. How they will do so without taking away the simplicity of the UI right now is the million dollar question.
If Uber drives an aggressive enough campaign and convinces first time riders in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to try their service, they will no doubt see a huge uptick in conversions and daily active users, something they desperately need in their fight against Ola. Will Ola play the waiting game and observe how Uber does with this service before mounting a response, or will they go in guns blazing? Only time will tell.
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Uber Press Release: https://newsroom.uber.com/india/dial/