We take it for granted that when we travel around a city, taxis are ubiquitous. All we need to do is stand on a street corner and wave our arm in the air - the universal signal for get me somewhere quickly. Technology has tried to drag the process of hailing a taxi into the 21st century, none more so than the service offered by controversial global app-based private hire company Uber. One of the most recent success stories from Silicon Valley, Uber is a Marmite brand - you either love it or you hate it. The people who love it tend to be those who want a car to take them from A to B, for a known fee at a moment’s notice. Those who hate it are those whose traditional business is being eroded.
There have been protests across the globe about the rapid expansion of Uber and the impact it has had on the competitive market. But then she can afford to be generous. Even in the fast-paced world of tech, Uber’s explosion has been remarkable. The San Francisco-based company picked up its first official customer in 2010. Now it operates in more than 250 cities across 55 countries, and is valued at more than £25 billion. That’s more than Snapchat, Airbnb, Dropbox and Spotify combined.
London is key to Uber’s plan for global domination — so much so that outspoken co-founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick has described it as the “Champions’ League of transportation”. And many in the capital have been quick to get on the board. When a company has its own verb, you know they’re big, according to The Standard. We Google, We FaceTime, e Skype and now we Uber. The traditions of Handsome (today better known as Black) Cabs in London may make them a tourist attraction in their own right but Uber is eating the traditional black cab's breakfast underneath their own noses. London Cabbies are known for their forthright opinions, tall stories of celebrities they claim to have driven and their intricate knowledge of every back-street in the capital but most passengers simply want a fixed fare and a choice of cars - that's where Uber wins hands down. And as everything is accessed through an app, the fight for page ranking and use of URLs becomes irrelevant.
Whilst it is almost inconceivable that in a year's time there won't be another pretender in the block, the traditional taxi companies need to up their digital marketing strategy. The launch in a few weeks of dotTaxi may just add fuel to the fire of the digital highways. We've already seen the launch of dotLimo and dotCab, the more Americanised versions of the word taxi, which have had moderate success so far with 3,468 and 3,989 registrations respectively. DotTaxi is perhaps more universally accepted as a term so could generate more interest than Cab and Limo.
Uber has already invested in the new gTLDs, securing their brand name in both dotCab and dotLimo, although like so many other brands they are not actively using the names. They rely on word of mouth to download the app, making search a secondary acquisition tool yet they are funded to the tune of $258 million by Google (in this case Google Ventures, the tech investment arm).
For businesses large and small who operate in the public and private hire space, a dotTaxi could be worth the investment. Whilst domain names play a very small part in the search ranking criteria, there will come a time when the likes of Google will start putting more emphasis on generic TLDs as part of the search term. When that day comes, the companies that will be one step ahead of the will be those who took the chance to register new TLDs such as dotTaxi when the names were first released.