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January 22, 2013

Uber Car Service Makes a Stop in Singapore Markets

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Uber, the company that makes getting a cab as simple as a smartphone app can make it, has been around the block a few times in several United States markets. But 11 months after CEO Travis Kalanick first talked about plans to move into the Asian markets, Uber has made the plans a reality and moved into Singapore, a development that was rumored to be in the works since last October. Its soft launch is now officially announced, and has welcomed new customers.

Uber made its Singaporean launch with two high-profile first customers--Paralympic medalist Theresa Goh and food critic Dr. Lesley Tay--but the service isn't just available for the high-profile. It's now available for most anyone willing to hit the company up on its iOS or Android (News - Alert) apps as well as their mobile website.

Those wanting a ride with Uber can get in for the minimum fare of $12 Singaporean (about $9.78 US), with a $7 Singaporean (about $5.70 US) base fare and rates per kilometer that vary based on the desired speed to the destination. Those willing to go only 18 Kmph--about 11 miles per hour--will only need to shell out $2.25 Singaporean (about $1.83 US) per kilometer, but those wanting faster speeds will pay that $2.25 Singaporean per minute.

Interestingly, Uber is not a novel concept in Singapore, as cabs are commonly hailed via mobile devices. What's more, Uber's prices are actually quite a bit more than the standard cab ride in Singapore--some reports put an average ride at $3.20 Singaporean to start and between $0.54 and $0.82 Singaporean per kilometer-- so Uber is instead billing its service, complete with black sedans, as a premium ride with, not surprisingly, a premium price. Uber does something similar in the U.S/, offering up luxury cars at the touch of a button.

But, Uber's push into the Asian markets hasn't been quite as smooth as the ride Uber offers--a planned push into Tokyo hasn't yet materialized--but the plans to enter are still very much in place and early word says the "obvious" cities, like Hong Kong and Tokyo, are still yet on the block. Given Singapore's status as a major center for tech firms and entrepreneurial growth in the Asia-Pacific region, it was a safe bet that they'd make an appearance there at some point anyway, and probably shouldn't make it much of a surprise they got there first.

Asia itself is a region that's rapidly in a growth pattern, as Europe finds itself under intense pressures and the North American market is having a bit of a slump of late. Businesses looking for a place to expand find themselves doing so, and doing so pretty well, with the Asia-Pacific region. Uber is discovering that just as well as anyone, with either full operations or the testing for same now active in 29 cities worldwide.

Uber is clearly out to expand, and is providing a service that would seem to be conducive to expansion. Though it hasn't come in without a little controversy here and there, it still has plenty of room to offer value for its users, as has been seen by the sheer number of places in which it’s operating. Uber's expansion may well carry on for some time to come, at least, anywhere where someone needs a ride and an easy way to get that ride.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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