If you live in or near a big American city, chances are pretty good that you can hail a car from at least one app. Now that the market is close to saturated — minus some notable holdouts like Las Vegas — an app has to stand out to win you over.
That's why Taxi Magic, a cab-hailing app that operates in 60 cities, is changing its name and rebranding its experience as Curb. For the refreshed company, which also brought on new CEO Patrick Lashinsky this summer, the name change signals a broader focus on all kinds of transportation.
"In the last 18-24 months there have been a significant number of changes taking place in the space," Lashinsky said. "The brand needed to change. Consumers tell us they are looking for one location they can meet all their transportation needs — taxi, black car, sedan, shuttles to the airport. Under Taxi Magic we were limited."
As Curb, the transit app can connect users with rides in cabs, sedans, and black cars by partnering with local fleets and drivers, like Uber and Hailo do. The company is currently working with 35,000 cabs and 6,500 black cars, a number Lashinsky hopes to boost significantly this year.
Curb, like Taxi Magic before it, is different from competing on-demand car apps in two significant ways. Curb drivers accept cash and debit/credit cards in the car, which other companies don't allow.
"More than 60 percent of people are paying with cash in a cab versus credit card," Lashinsky said. "We're allowing consumers to have their choice — cash or credit card."
You can still store payment information in the app and pay that way, too. The company also plans to punish drivers who agree to pick you up and then drop you for a closer ride with a 5-hour suspension. You'll be slapped with a $5 cancellation fee for bailing on your driver, so the penalties go both ways.
Curb also lets you book future rides, which rival Uber doesn't allow. It's a huge deal for business travelers who need to schedule cars for meetings, to go to the airport, etc. The app is integrating with business travel expense management company Concur to let travelers book and expense Curb rides through either Curb's app or Concur's app. That move goes a step beyond what Uber offers with its own recently announced Concur integration.
While other apps like Lyft are focused on hyper-growth, often to the chagrin of local regulators, Curb plans to build up its presence in the States by working with established cab and livery companies to offer rides. It's a strategy another company, Hailo, has also using successfully.
Existing Taxi Magic users can update their iOS and Android apps to see the redesign and new branding. Newbies can try out Curb here.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.