Uber’s simple, unique idea, controversial nature, and mind-blowing expansion mark it out significantly among all the startups, that has appeared since 2009, when it has started its world conquest. To date, Uber seized market in 70 countries, 523 cities and significantly stands out the Unicorns (start-up companies valued at over $1 billion).
The seven-year-old company has been recognized to be the world’s most highly capitalized startup. According to the latest reports, Uber’s value reached $51 billion.
From the outside, startups look very attractive. Moreover, founders of successful startups are nowadays akin to rock stars. That’s why lots of people start thinking about launching their own businesses similar to those who have already conquered the market.
When Uber’s value reached it’s peak requests for taxi mobile app development increased significantly.
Even if you don’t generate the same amount of revenue, a taxi booking app can be the foundation of a successful digital business. In this article, I will dig into the elements of successful taxi app, clarify all the finer points and show you how to build an app that attracts users.
Key Steps on How to Build a Mobile Taxi App
1. Determine the basic features of your future taxi booking app
Just after you start analyzing cost to develop a taxi app, first thing you’ll find out is that de facto you have to develop three independent apps (one for passenger, one for driver and an admin dashboard). Each of these apps will have a set of its own features. Here are some core features which could be a perfect set for a minimum viable product (MVP):
Passenger App basic features:
- Registration and Login.
- Taxi booking (finding and booking a nearby taxi).
- Selecting a taxicab type (passenger or cargo), price per kilometer, etc.
- Push notifications, which inform passengers about accepted request, approximate arrival time, the vehicle info and more.
Driver App basic features:
- Registration and admin approval.
- Order push notifications (informs a driver about a new request).
- Booking (accept or reject offer).
- Statistics of rides and gains.
An admin dashboard is a web-based software that helps to keep all the useful information about passengers, drivers, and trips in one place.
The dashboard enables you to track the drivers’ activity, view analytics, details about vehicles, trip invoices and more. You can also link it to Google Analytics to discover more info about your users.
There is no basic scope of features, it depends on your requirements as an admin. But you should pay a special attention to this functionality if an admin panel is required by legislation of the country you plan to work in.
- Interactive tracking – real time tracking of the driver’s position on the map.
- Booking rides beforehand.
- Split payments for a few passengers to share the bill for a ride.
- Drive history – a full log of previous trips, prices, and earnings (for drivers).
- Drivers valuation and ratings – passengers’ comments directly on the driver (his personal qualities and skills), vehicle condition and trip safety in general.
- Inbuilt chat – allows passengers and drivers to communicate directly through the app.
- Your big ideas.
After an MVP with the basic features is launched, you can add additional ones to improve the app. That’s how you can reach the purpose of an on-demand app ASAP.
Don’t forget, that aside from the cost for these apps you will also need to pay for a backend server, customer service, and support.
2. Decide on the development platform
After defining what key features you want to see in your future taxi booking app, you’ll come up with a necessity of choosing a development platform. You can choose to develop an app for certain operating system: iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS or else.
You should learn about pros and cons of each option in order to decide on the optimal one for you.
Initially you’ll have to decide if you want to make a cross-platform app or a native one for a variety of platforms. You’d better bear in mind that hybrid apps have more cons, than pros.
As a development company, we recommend taking a decision in favor of a native platform development in order not to trade-off the quality of your future product.
Such approach ensures that your app will result in being much faster, having a higher security level, and having an access to inbuilt smartphone features like geolocation.
For instance, to integrate geolocation into an Android app we need to work with Google Maps or Android framework location APIs. In order to take care of geolocation on iPhone or iPad, we use iOS apps framework MapKit. Consider that such things are significant for taxi booking app development.
As an example, the average cost to develop an app for iOS will be 20% higher than to develop it for Android, 35% higher than development for Windows Phone and 45% higher than development for Blackberry OS.
Moreover, always keep your target audience in mind. There is no reason to develop a native Android app first if you plan to conquer the U.S. because almost every third US citizen uses iPhone. But developing an Android app for the Chinese market is a good idea.
If you still doubt which development platform to choose, you can find out more details on the topic in our research.
3. Choose a mobile app development team
After defining the development platform, you’ll come up with the issue of a mobile development team search. At this stage you need to conduct a thorough study and make sure you did the right choice in the end.
So what options do you have?
You can hire a sole developer for the job among the wide variety of freelancers and self-employed developers or you can hire a company that will meet your requirements and have all the specialists needed to embody your project.
In order to get a competitive product, hiring a sole developer won’t be enough; because UX/UI design and testing are important stages of your future taxi mobile app development. I bet you don’t want to disappoint users with poor user experience and bad quality. Here you will require an experienced app development team.
While looking through the companies in order to hire taxi app developers, take into account that high price doesn’t equal high quality. We posted recently that there are several components that contributes to a mobile app price. In short, you should remember the main factors that form hourly rates:
- Geographical location of the mobile app development company.
- Company’s size.
- Company’s experience level.
The essential cost influencing factor is geographical location of the development company. It mostly depends on standards of living in the country.
Just look at the picture below to see how hourly rates for mobile development are different from region to region.
Obviously, the difference in hourly rates is phenomenal, but in reality, there will be no difference in the actual quality of UK and Ukraine (Eastern Europe) development team product.
What actually matters is whether you are comfortable working with a remote team or with companies closer to you.
If your aim is to make a successful and competitive taxi application, you should choose carefully among the wide variety of taxi app developers for hire across borders. Giving your project to the highly qualified specialists in the sphere of mobile development will extremely increase your chances for triumph.
It’s not rocket science, but I highly recommend to do the research before choosing your app development partner. Put in the effort now, and reap the rewards later.
Right away, let’s find out the answer to the main question.
How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Taxi App Like Uber?
I will calculate the cost to build MVP for a taxi-hailing app – supposing that the development of application will be provided for two platforms (iOS and Android). The app presented in this calculation will include only the basic features as described earlier.
To create a mobile app for taxi booking you will require a development team of:
- UX/UI designer.
- iOS developer.
- Android developer
- Backend developer.
- Project Manager.
- QA Engineer.
The time required to build for two platforms:
- UX/UI design – up to 1 month (~180 hours)
- Development for iOS and Android– up to 4 months (~720 hours)
- Project Management – up to 200 hours.
- QA and bugfixing– 360-400 hours.
- Backend development – up to 3 months (~540 hours).
Total time for MVP with basic features: ~2040 hours.
The final cost depends on your service provider’s hourly rates. If choosing the North American rates, your expenses on developing a taxi booking app will be ~$325,000. The same app in Ukraine will be $51,000-61,000.
Take notice that these rough calculations don’t include the costs of marketing, maintenance, and support, server expenses, etc.
Is Another Uber Clone Worth the Money?
Now let’s look if it’s really worth making an Uber clone.
We hear about new taxi-hailing apps all the time. But, why some of them are being pushed out of the market?
Colin Light, digital consulting leader of PwC China and Hong Kong, explains that a high volume of business is required to make a revenue out of the small cuts that taxi-booking apps take out of rides.
As Light said, “The investment only works if you have a high volume. If you’re not one of the top two apps, you’re nowhere, because it’s a volume game. Realistically, how many taxi apps will you install on your phone? It’s a very risky business.”
But guess what?
Despite Uber’s extreme success, it didn’t monopolize the market.
So how can your app become admired by users?
If you plan to come up with your own taxi booking app, the righteous decision will be to focus on the local market.
Things will be much easier if such giants as Uber, Lyft, Grab and others do not operate in your country yet. In such case you won’t have to come up with something radically new but it will be enough to just study leaders in the field. What unique features they brought to their apps, what they do for the success and take the best from them considering your budget.
Check the map below to have an idea about the competition in your country.
If the country you are going to make your taxi booking app for already has mobile taxi services but the existing apps are still little known, all you have to do is learn the pros and cons of the competitors and come up with an application of superior quality together with a large-scale marketing campaign.
If there are strong competitors on the local market which have already gained wide popularity among consumers, to stand out among them and claim your share of the market, you will have to come up with a completely unique application or some killer feature. Otherwise you’ll have to dump prices.
In any case you need to study leaders in the field.
For example, how is Lyft different from Uber? Lyft operates with completely the same business model as Uber.
From a passenger viewpoint, there is very little difference in ride experience or prices. As you can see Uber sometimes offers even lower prices than Lyft.
But from a driver’s viewpoint, Lyft offers 80% of the fare, while Uber just 75%. Drivers state that Lyft values them more. During different interviews, Uber drivers claimed that the company doesn’t value much those who operate under the name and that drivers could be replaced anytime.
As for Hailo, they attract their customers with such services as recovering lost items, booking rides beforehand and business offers for large companies. This gives a company an opportunity to book rides for clients or employees anytime.
GrabTaxi CEO Anthony Tan showed an example of persistence and true faith in his project. He was personally going door-to-door and asking the biggest taxi companies to try his product. That’s how he remembers this all: “The first one would say no, and tell me to go back to the family business as it’s much easier. ‘Don’t sell this stupid app. Nobody will use it. Taxi drivers will steal your phone – they’re terrible people.’” But the fifth door he approached opened in front of him, it was a small taxi company with only 30 vehicles, but they gave him a chance.
The main reason why it is so hard to compete with Uber is that the company has huge financial opportunities but at the same time you need to consider that their cash and efforts are spread worldwide. That’s why Grab, who doesn’t plan to expand outside Southeast Asian region yet, can concentrate on solving region’s problems, and do it much better than Uber.
Nearly the same thing happened with Didi Dache (known as Didi-Kuaidi and Didi Chuxing). In order to win the battle with Uber in China Didi Dache decided to merge with its main rival Kuaidi Dache. During the foreign markets occupation, Uber faced with the fact that local services understood their users better and could provide higher quality services.
Another thing you can do to overcome the competion is building an app for a different type of vehicles. You can consider these ideas of Uber-like apps for tractor hailing and helicopters rent or come up with something unique.
Why Future Applications of The On-demand Apps are Beyond Rides?
In general, Uber became popular because it made a revolution in the world of the taxi service. For hundreds of years, the world of taxi business had been unchangeable until Uber automated and optimized a taxi booking and ridesharing process.
Today Uber has become a common name in the sphere of on-demand economy. People take the basic idea of Uber (creating a digital-platform for a specific industry or business, that will be profitable for both consumers and service providers) and create hundreds of applications for different spheres, not only taxi. For example, Airbnb is often called “Uber for hotels”.
Uber for X is definitely happening now.
Have you seen “Uber for last minute events” called Yplan?
It launched in London in November 2012, in 2013 it spread to New-York and in 2014 appeared in San Francisco. Yplan is built around simplicity like almost all the Uber-based applications. Its key feature is that you can browse local events by date, then narrow your search by type (“Art”, “Cinema”, “Comedy”, “Opera”, “Sport”, etc.) and book directly through the app.
In 2015, The Next Web named YPlan the UK’s Fastest Growing Tech Company. To date, Yplan has raised almost $40 million.
Uber Business Model gives a big opportunity for creating a lot of on-demand services. But if you think about applying it for other services than taxi, consider, that the cost to develop such application will differ from the cost to develop a taxi app, because it will have a different set of features.
Evidently, development of an app is just a tip of the iceberg. Digital business doesn’t differ much from any other business. To be successful on the market, you need to work out a good business strategy and marketing campaign and take care of providing high-quality services to your customers.
To determine the cost of your on-demand taxi app you need to decide on some aspects first:
- Your business model and market demand for the app.
- A list of important features.
- A development platform.
Even the most outstanding apps are created with MVP first and then improved to win their own market share. We support this idea since it could save our clients’ time and money.
What other tips for app cost estimating do you want to receive? Let us know in the comments.