With plans to expand globally, Ola Cabs, India’s leading ride-sharing service provider, marked its entry into the international market by announcing in January 2018 the launch of its services in the Australian territory. While the exact date of the service launch in Australia is not yet decided, as it is subject to regulatory approvals, the service provider has already started the ground work by inviting private hire vehicles to join them. The company is starting to collaborate with private hire vehicle owners in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, the three cities where Ola cabs will initially be available for rides, to be ready to roll out once the commercial operations commence.
Presently, the market for ride-sharing service providers in Australia includes players such as Uber, Taxify, and GoCatch, among others. With Uber, which has emerged as the leading player in Australia, already present in the market, Ola needs to have its strategy, policies, and priorities set just right to smoothly launch and successfully run its operations. However, the presence of Uber has worked, to some extent, in favor of Ola, as it paved the way for ride-sharing services in the country resulting in regulatory policies being already in place. This makes the market entry a bit easier for Ola as the company will not need to deal with several challenges that the early market entrants in such novelty markets as ride-sharing typically have to tackle.
However, competing against its largest rival, Uber, is not the only concern for Ola. To be successful in the Australian market, Ola also has to focus on smaller and newer competitors, and set its operational and pricing policies keeping in mind their strategies in the market. Taxify, an Estonia-based company that launched its operations in Australia in December 2017, is expected to closely compete with Ola, especially with its ride services being operational only in Sydney and Melbourne, two of the locations where Ola is launching its services as well. With two ride-sharing service providers launching its operations in similar locations within a span of few months, a price war between the two is expected to happen. Currently, Taxify offers rides to its commuters without any surge pricing, making the ride cheaper than Uber. If Ola plans a similar pricing structure, among other strategies to drive the business, the competition between the two operators will, most likely, heat up very soon.
With two ride-sharing service providers launching its operations in similar locations within a span of few months, a price war between the two is expected to happen.
In the Australian market, the ride-sharing services segment is still in its infancy stage of development and with only one player (in this case, Uber) currently dominating the scene, it makes sense for Ola to launch its operations here now, offering a new option for consumers to choose from. Entry of Ola, along with new players such as Taxify, may indicate a transitioning phase in the Australian ride-sharing market as the entry of new players has the potential to end Uber’s monopoly. Currently, with very little known about the operating dynamics, not much can be commented about the success of Ola in the Australian market. However, the unsaturated state of the local market clearly indicates that Ola has a good chance to thrive in Australia, as long as they get the pricing right and set their eyes on the long-term business growth rather than short-term gain through higher prices.