Ride-hailing services are big business, and Here wants a piece of the action. Today the company -- created by Nokia and sold to a consortium of German car manufacturers in 2015 -- has announced a new division called Here Mobility. Its purpose is to develop a platform or marketplace where businesses can request and sell ride-hailing services. A hotel, for instance, might want to offer one or two options through its website. In theory, it would connect to the Mobility Marketplace and select the services that best suit its needs and those of its customers. It's also possible that end consumers would be able to compare and choose the supplier themselves.
Here describes it as a "unifying abstraction layer." In short, it wants to be the middle person between ride-hailing services and commercial businesses (which, by extension, include everyday customers like you and me). Its clientele could include airline companies that want to help customers grab a lift from the airport, businesses that own self-service kiosks in public spaces and event-venue owners who want to help attendees find their way back home. Ride-hailing companies should benefit from the extra exposure while customers gain from having easy access to the cheapest, fastest or most-convenient transport options.
At the same time, Here is launching a tool called Mobility Dispatch. It's a platform that allows ride-hailing companies to effectively manage their fleet of drivers. Most of the major services have their own version of this; however, Here's platform also links in to its Mobility Marketplace. In addition, Here is touting advanced algorithms and "unprecedented fleet utilization," which could help companies stay ahead of their usually well-funded competition. "Our solutions democratize a fragmented and siloed industry, opening new channels to access the best mobility tools and services available," said Liad Itzhak, vice president and head of Here Mobility.
Here is a late entrant into an already crowded space. Its role as a facilitator rather than a direct competitor to services such as Lyft, Uber and Didi Chuxing could be a smart bet, however. The new business venture follows a dizzying number of automotive projects, including a next-gen communications hub for autonomous cars and traffic alerts via crowdsourced car-sensor data. No wonder Bosch took a five percent stake in the company recently.
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