In a news which you rarely hear, Apple has invested — and that too a staggering $1 Billion — into Chinese cab-hailing service Didi, reports Bloomberg. The Cupertino giant, apart from the staggering capital it is providing, will help Didi in building its data driven platform, as its rides balloon on a daily basis.
This capital influx from Apple, is a part of the $2 Billion fund-raising which Didi is undergoing at a valuation of $25 Billion. And while that valuation may be a third of where Uber stands right now, Didi’s bank balance is perhaps the most competitive to Uber globally, despite it being limited to the Chinese mainland.
To put things into context and to highlight the importance of a robust data-driven platform, Didi is notching up a gargantuan 11 Million rides a day, with subscribed user base exceeding 300 Million.Didi operates in 400 Chinese cities and works with more than 14 million Chinese car owners. These numbers are one of the largest for any cab hailing app, globally.
For Apple, this could (and a big ‘could’) be another way of continuing to maintain its goodwill in China, a country which has traditionally been strict on western companies trying to do businesses. This investment might also help Apple gain an edge in its mapping service, as it can now get access to Chinese maps in detail. Apple will also join the likes of Alibaba and Tencent — both of whom are major investors in Didi.
China has been the battlefield for Uber and Didi. While Uber competes with regional players globally (Lyft in the US, Ola in India, GrabTaxi in SE Asia among others), Didi has been the single largest player which has been able to raise cash, equivalent to that of Uber. Signalling how it might take this fight with Uber to a more global level, the Chinese cab giant has been making strategic investments into smaller regional players — more recent being the one in Ola.
All of Uber’s regional rivals have already come together to form a “Global Taxi Alliance“, with an aim to make cross-country cab hailing a seamless experience for users. The alliance will allow customers to book rides on the apps of these four companies whenever they are travelling to India, China, the US, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia.
For instance, if you are a Ola member and you happen to travel to China from India, you will not have to install the fresh application for local cab services and go through the sign up procedure. You can still book Didi through app itself with no new account.