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Uber positions its China app as more than a ride-hailing service

TechCrunch TechCrunch 26/06/2016 Megan Rose Dickey

Uber China is repositioning itself as an all-in-one solution for transportation, food and entertainment. At TechCrunch Shanghai, Uber China VP of Operations and Regional General Manager of Central China Kate Wang showed off Uber’s new vision for China — one that includes two new offerings, UberLIFE and Uber + Travel, which will roll out across China this year.

All-in-one solutions are something the Chinese market demands. That’s what WeChat, the hot messaging app that sees 697 million active users worldwide every month, is all about. In addition to messaging, the app offers voice and video calling, payments, shopping, games and more. It seems that Uber, which has been blocked on WeChat, is taking a page or several from WeChat’s playbook. It’s worth noting that WeChat is owned by Tencent, which is an investor in Uber’s biggest rival, Didi Chuxing, formerly known as Didi Kuaidi.

In an analysis of data, Uber figured out that people still look at the Uber app for an additional 90 seconds when they’re in the car, so Uber wants to give people more to do when they’re inside the app. With Uber Life, passengers will get served up a digital magazine of sorts to connect them to sports events, art events, plays and other things going on in their local cities. Uber Life is intended to help people “live a better a life” and ultimately spend more time within Uber’s app.

With Uber+Travel, the idea is to connect people to everything they might need while traveling internationally — from boats to air balloons. In a promo video shown at TC Shanghai, we saw new services like UberBoat and UberBalloon, as well as logos for all of Uber’s partners in local cities.

“This reminds us that Uber is a global service serving global citizens,” Wang said. “It is rooted in each of the cities.”

With Uber+Travel, Uber can tap into its network of partners throughout the world to offer more of a seamless travel experience. Last year, Uber filed a patent for something called Uber Travel, which recommends travel itineraries. Wang also spoke about UberPASS, a package of rides that you can buy to use in different cities.

Earlier this month, Uber said it’s on course to become China’s most popular ride service within a year. Uber first entered China about two years ago, while Didi has been operating in China for four years. Since launching in China, Uber’s footprint has expanded from ten to sixty cities. Now, Wang said, Uber’s goal is to transform itself from a player in the car-hailing market “to a commerce service that understands life and a proper life.”

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