Two months ago, GetTaxi launched its taxi hire service in New York with the plan to overtake taxi app market. The service experienced success in London and Tel Aviv and seemed poised to get its name known in the Big Apple, hawking a new $12 million investment to boot. But, as I reported then, it was going to be an uphill battle for the company. Uber and Hailo are already planted in the New York car service ecosystem, and a newcomer would have to do something remarkable to cut through.
Today the Tel Aviv-based startup has announced a rebranding of its US branch in the form of a new name along with a new “future booking” feature. Gett, as the newly rechristened company is called, is pivoting.
Initially, Gett offered a ride-hailing service. Instead of providing an app that hails unreliable yellow taxis (like Hailo) or taps its own fleet of cars (like Uber, although Uber will also let you hail a cab with its app), Gett partnered with local private car fleets and claimed to offer the cheapest, most consistent pricing. New York City has an excess of local private car services, also called black cars, which New Yorkers find wonderfully convenient in the occasional dearth of yellow cabs.
But the company’s strategy didn’t pan out. So today it’s announcing a new feature: Users can book car rides in the future, anywhere from 12 hours to 2 weeks away. This should make it easier for people who know they’re going the airport and don’t want to worry about hailing a yellow cab or, worse, taking public transit. The company is sure to point out that no other car service app offers this.
At first glance, future booking doesn’t seem a huge deal. But the startup’s CEO Jing Herman told me, future booking is “the first step in making our vision broader.” What this broader vision is she wouldn’t say. She hinted the new name offers guidance. ”I think the word Gett is much more appropriate,” she said.
What, pray tell, does that mean? Herman wouldn’t get into specifics, but she said this could mean new horizons for the company. She mentioned “on-demand delivery” and the ability to “book and deliver anything you can imagine” as future possibilities.
After further questioning, she backpedaled, saying that Gett’s future news could be anything from an Uber-like gimmick to another new feature. “We want to be the car service of the future,” she said.
According to Herman the New York launch was very well-received, with the app being downloaded “tens of thousands” of times since August. At the same time, she wouldn’t disclose official numbers. This includes app numbers, customer statistics, or even the amount of cars Gett has partnered with in New York.
App analytics site AppAnnie paints a less rosy picture. Since July 2013, Gett has rarely cracked the top 100 travel apps. For its New York launch it peaked at number 42, and then eased back to the low hundreds (it now resides in spot number 125). Hailo, on the other hand, has been in the top 50 travel apps since July. Taxi Magic has also remained consistently in the top 75. Uber, of course, has remained in the top 10.
The other cab apps are available in more cities, but given the correlation of the app’s travel placement rise in connection to its New York launch, Gett probably expected it to make more of a lasting impression. And the competition is only going to get more intense. Following Gett’s launch, Uber made an even bigger push into New York by expanding to Brooklyn.
Nevertheless, I’m guessing we’ll be hearing about a “big announcement” from Gett in a few months about its “brand new service.”
Though I hope Gett is aware that delivery services are not new to New York either.
[Image credit: Camera on autopilot on Flickr]