A Competitor for Uber?

As I returned home from Scotland yesterday, I noticed a building in my neighborhood had a new neon sign adorning the top floor. For years, a vinyl banner read “YOUR NAME HERE.”  Now it read “TaxiMagic.”

Curious as I am, I googled it. TaxiMagic is the new name for RideCharge, Inc. According to their profile on the Google Play store, they have two apps TaxiMagic and SedanMagic, the latter sounding a lot like Uber. The former looks like an Uber-like system, but for cabs.

Here’s how they describe TaxiMagic:

– Find taxis based on your location
– Book a taxi in a few quick taps
– Track the arrival of your taxi through dispatch updates and a map view
– Charge the ride to your credit card
– Expense the trip with an e-receipt

‘Magic Booking’ is available with 65 leading taxi fleets in over 40 major U.S. cities, with tap-to-call fleets in 4,000 U.S. and Canadian cities.

TaxiMagic makes its money through a $1.50 charge to pay for your ride via credit card.

Android users seem to think it is a swell app, though it has about as many negative votes as it does 2 and 3 star votes.

Since it’s a national company, I’m glad they chose Virginia — a very business friendly state — to call home.

How will it fare in the DC region since Uber has dominated DC?

SedanMagic does not have many ratings yet, so I presume it is a newer product. They did make this promo for it, which could have been improved if they got Ranjit from How I Met Your Mother to star in it (some free marketing advice for my neighbors.)

My guess is they will focus on expanding SedanMagic in cities that don’t have Uber yet, and eventually grow that product before they focus on competing with Uber — sort of like how Cars2Go and others waited before taking on ZipCar.

They have racked up a ton of client cab companies in DC according to their website, but the million dollar question is, even if their product is good, can they overcome the hatred of DC cabs that Uber has been able to use to their advantage?

That will be tough. Hatred of cabs in DC is pretty entrenched, and Uber has been able to convert that to new customers and dollars in the bank. TaxiMagic will not be able to erase that over night.

However, later at night when Ubers are more scarce, TaxiMagic will be able to probably grow the partier market into a nice customer base.

I love Uber, but as a free market guy, I love competition. Since it’s evident that certain drivers don’t like following the regulations they’ve pushed for (to drive out competitors!) late at night when the regulators have gone to bed (see: Union Station), this is a good way to get away from the failed current model. Cabbies (or their companies) will be better able to self-select their clients and their destinations. In short, it improves the market since consumers and suppliers are better able to communicate their wants.

RideCharge will have to tread carefully in DC, given this recent war between the taxicab cabal and the livery drivers, and that they are working with both factions.


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One Thought on “A Competitor for Uber?

  1. Aaron on June 24, 2012 at 11:04 am said:

    One minor clarification regarding pre-Jim DC: Zipcar was not first to market here, Flexcar beat them by maybe as much as a year, but their completely unlikeable business model created sufficient daylight for Zipcar to surge ahead and eventually put Flexcar under.

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