New Taxi Booking App In Beijing Proves The Promise Of Mobile Engagement In China

With Bryan Wang, VP and principal analyst

How much would it cost to establish a taxi dispatching system in a city of 20 million people, with nearly 66,000 taxis jamming the roads? Consider that Singapore, with a population of  about 5 million, has spent tens of millions of dollars to build a customized system with screens and sensors installed in almost every taxi and a large-scale call center to support it.

Now with the wide availability and affordability of smartphones, entirely new innovative approaches that are light on infrastructure can be employed to reduce cost and time-to-value. A good example is a mobile application recently launched in Beijing called Didi Taxi that works like this:

  •  Passengers and drivers download the app. There are two versions, currently available on both iOS and Android. Drivers download the app to accept orders; passengers download the app to order taxis.
  • Passengers bid for taxis through their mobile phones. When a passenger opens the app, they see their current location on the map and the density of available taxis nearby based on the GPS tracking on both passengers’ and drivers’ devices. Passengers then use their voice to specify their exact location and destination, and — most importantly — how much extra on top of the metered fare they are willing to pay (normally ranging from $1 to $3).
  • Taxi drivers confirm the booking. The system automatically broadcasts the message to all nearby taxis (within either a 1 km or 2 km radius) based on the density of nearby taxi drivers using the app. The first driver to respond within 90 seconds will get the order. If no drivers respond, the message goes out again to all drivers in a larger radius.
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Despite An Affair With My iPad, I Just Can’t Give Up My Laptop. . . Yet

A year and a half ago I broke up with Blackberry and started dating iPhone. It was a clean but cruel breakup: AT&T cancelled my T-Mobile contract on my behalf, the equivalent of getting dumped by your girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

This year I’ve been cheating on my laptop with my iPad. But it’s an on-again, off-again relationship. While I tell my iPad it’s the only one, I keep going back to my laptop. When I travel, my iPad is with me meeting clients. Meanwhile my laptop is in the hotel room surfing the online menu for a turkey club.

The iPad beats my laptop on size, weight, connectivity, and battery life. It also improves the human element when I’m having a face-to-face conversation but need to take notes. These are all critically important to me when I'm out of the office visiting clients or at an event.

But my laptop wins when I need to perform other important activities. For example, the larger screen really helps to write and edit research reports (John Rakowski, you’ll have your edits soon!). Or when I need to approve expenses behind the VPN or access files on my hard drive that I haven’t stored in Google Drive (yes, Forrester sanctioned).

Now that I've had a few months of compare both devices, I come back to outcomes . . .

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Windows 8 & Lenovo – The Good, the Bad and the Bugly

I recently bought myself a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 running Windows 8 because I want a tablet device that can really run Windows and PowerPoint when I need them, and I have found all the iPad Office solutions to be lacking in some fashion. When I saw the new Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, it was love at first byte.

Like in all relationships, some of the new has worn off, and since it’s “Internet time”, it has only taken a couple of weeks as opposed to years to see my partner in a more realistic light.

So, here is my list of the good and the bad (architecturally, structurally) and bugly (things that can probably be fixed).

The Good – Excellent Hardware, Fluid and Attractive Interface

There are many good things to say about this combination:

  • It’s the lightest Windows device I have ever owned, and its general performance and usability is light years ahead of a horrible Netbook I bought for one of my sons about two years ago.
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