Entering the unique landscape of transportation in Japan, Sony has launched S.Ride, a taxi-hailing service, in Japan, which shall try to abide by the three words the letter ‘S; in S-Ride stands for – “simple,” “smart,” and “speedy.” The S.Ride app has been launched by Minna no Taxi, loosely translating to ‘Everybody’s taxi’; a Corporation formed last year by Sony
Payment Services, Sony Corp. and six other taxi companies, including Daiwa and Kokusai.
The alliance was announced in February 2018 is intended to use AI algorithms to predict demand, and supply taxis accordingly. The S.Ride fleet, expected to comprise of more than 10,000 cars, allows its users to hail a cab by a single slide, which pinpoints the hailer’s location and automatically adjusts it to enable him to be picked up by the car closest to him.
Payment can be made via cash or registered credit cards, along with S-Ride’s own QR-code powered S-Wallet. To pay using the S-Wallet, a user has to scan the code of the S.Ride Wallet app displayed on the backseat tablet with the S.Ride application, and the payment shall be made in real time. As of April 16, 2019, S.Ride is offering services in 23 wards in Tokyo, Musashino City, and Mitaka City.
While this is an innovative venture that comes as part of a plan by Sony’s latest CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida’s plan to move the company away from selling hardware in favor of marketing content and services; it shall, nonetheless, face fierce competition from JapanTaxi, an app operated by Ichiro Kawanabe, CEO, and chairman of Nihon Kotsu, Japan’s taxi
federation. Furthermore, reports by Bloomberg suggest that Uber may be next in line in entering the same business by partnering with a local taxi company.
Be that as it may, Sony has indeed taken a big leap, even though it has no immediate plan of launching the service outside Japan.