Japanese messaging app Line has announced the launch of it’s own taxi service, marking the first major competition in Japan for the U.S.-based Uber.
Line has just started from Tokyo but they have plans to expand throughout Japan. This new service is available within the primary Line messaging app. Nihon Kotsu, one of the largest cab companies in Japan will provide the rides but Line will keep track of the payments using it’s own, new payment platform Line Pay. Kotsu has more than 3,000 cabs in Tokyo and some 23,000 vehicles acros the country, which explains why they will be providing the taxi service to Line.
Let’s look at the immediate competition for Line. Uber was launched in limited parts in November 2013 but they expanded throughout Tokyo in March 2014. Hailo, a British taxi app is also available in Tokyo and Osaka. The launch of these services in a limited area has made Japan a rather slow market if compared to other parts of Asia where there are as many as 10 apps competing in a single country.
TechInAsia compared Line and Uber and found Line’s services with “better coverage and shorter wait times”. Looks like Uber has got some ground to cover.
Line has joined a completely different league by it’s new move. The messaging app has a history of being compared with the likes of Whatsapp, KakaoTalk, and Kik . The four year old messaging app has been venturing out into different business categories like having an antivirus software, camera app, games and Line Pay to stay afloat.
Line recently acquired Microsoft’s MixRadio to give a major push to its music streaming service.