Since we all carry a smartphone in our pockets, we have gotten used to the idea of always being connected. However, the thought that this device will be able to find, organize, book and pay for all our journeys and make moving around way easier is not part of our everyday lives yet.
In this article moovel’s CEO, Robert Henrich outlines how smartphones will become our constant mobility companion and how that will influence our lives, business models and the entire segment of mobility providers. His views and ideas are the basis for parts of the company’s strategy and product decisions.
“It is likely that almost all of people’s mobility choices today would have a better, easier, cheaper alternative simply due to the fact that they don’t know their options”, says Robert Henrich.
To him moving around is a complicated affair. As of today we are used to undertaking journeys based on a limited amount of information and overview. People have a basic idea what exists and what works how but there is a big insecurity about a range of options.
However, in a smartphone-connected environment this should not be the standard. Unfortunately, the current system does not offer any ways to do that. “Very soon people will start to think of transportation as a service which naturally is available everywhere and at all times”, is Henrich’s conviction. “People will start to think in terms of journeys and not in terms of means of transport.”
Who promises easy, must deliver easy
“The tricky part about this is to build all the networks necessary and create something simple. If you promise the user something simple yet effective that is what you must deliver”, Henrich points out.
The solution will be a mobility platform which takes the complex systems and translates it to something intuitive, effective and easy for the user. This platform needs to include all individual options for mobility, combine and compare them in real time and solve travelling problems.
Henrich believes that this is quite easily possible already for car sharing and rental, for bike sharing, taxi and limousine services. However, it will take quite some time before a unified user experience of this new smart mobility will be available.
The limitations are not linked to internet coverage: “We will be talking about urban centers first where internet is provided”, Henrich explains. “It gets complicated when it comes to uniting all the mobility providers and their systems – i.e. public transport and ensuring that ticket inspectors are used to the new systems.”
A whole new segment of mobility will rise
The market for mobility is constantly growing in urban environments; however, the number of journeys we undertake remains roughly the same while distances travelled increase. So a new mobility platform likely will not mean more travel.
But the process can be made more effective: we invest time and money and often that can be stressful. This new concept will take on the responsibility to create a better plan for that.
This segment of a holistic view on and use of mobility did not exist before. The rise of this new segment can seriously shake up the current systems: The market for mobility is one of the biggest in the world. If something changes fundamentally in this segment it will most definitely affect economies.
New value chains will evolve, as well as new infrastructures and new jobs. “There will be a creating destruction: the quick rise of new segments”, thinks Henrich.
“The mobility market is one of the fastest changing with dramatic changes on the horizon – circumstances will be created that we can only muse about today.”
A holistic, neutral offer is the key to success
“Mobility platforms are often brought up in the context of the sharing economy”, Henrich states. “And I do believe that people are willing to share mobility – but only as long as they have an economical benefit from it. A platform always needs to consider this and brutally ask itself that question when offering new models.”
That also means that a successful mobility platform needs to offer the entire range of mobility options without meddling with which results are presented to the user in favor of one service or another.
“The platform needs to offer fair and neutral results – it will only ever be good and widely accepted if it does that”, is Henrich’s opinion.
Mobility providers will have no other option than to join one of these platforms which will make pricing structures more transparent and more competitive.
“I believe that at first there will be a few similar platforms which all include all the providers. So the factor which decides which platform survives eventually will be the user experience”, says Henrich.
One question that is still unanswered is what packages and pricing models will arise alongside these platforms. Will there be more real-time pricing (i.e. dependent on the weather or number of requests)? Will there be something like an “urban mobility flatrate”?
However these questions are answered: The future of mobility will be planned, organized, booked and paid for with our smartphones which as our personal mobility companions will make sure that journeys are effective and optimized to our needs and wallets.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.