Uber has hit a couple of speed bumps on its path to world domination this summer. In Paris, UberPop — the equivalent of UberX — has been suspended by local authorities following a series of violent anti-Uber protests. In China, the company is facing taxi driver protests. And in Colombia, where Uber has been declared illegal, the company and its drivers are facing citations and fines for continuing to operate.
But there's a light at the end of what is shaping up to be the worst month ever for Uber's global operations: India.
Though Uber is still trailing far behind India's market-leading ride-hail service OlaCabs and its recently acquired counterpart TaxiForSure, the company saw a fairly significant uptick in app installs in the country between April and May. According to data from mobile intelligence firm Quettra, Uber downloads went from 2.01% of the market in April to 3.51% in May.
Karun Arya, Uber's head of communications in South Asia and India, attributes the increase in installs to a number of things. For one, there's increased awareness of the app in India thanks to a marketing push that Uber kicked off earlier this year.
"We announced a partnership in March towards our commitment to create jobs for 50,000 women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020 and have partnered with iCare on this initiative," Arya told BuzzFeed News. "There have been regular promotions that have been done in the market related to referrals, special occasions, etc., which we've received an overwhelming response on as well."
Another potential contributor to Uber's increasing popularity in India: the country's most popular sport, cricket. "The massively popular IPL (Indian Premier League) was during those months," Arya said. "... Hundreds of thousands of people [were] going to stadiums and pubs to watch cricket matches, literally every day. We'd done some fantastic partnerships with some of the teams offering free rides to cricket fans ... to and from the stadiums."
And today, after eight months, the high court in Delhi has lifted its ban on the ride-hail service. The ban was instated in December 2014 after an Uber driver allegedly raped his passenger.
Uber is by no means conquering India's ride-share market; OlaCabs install penetration rose to 9.76% from 8.51% during the same period. That said, Uber's growth in what could be one of its largest potential markets is encouraging, particularly after the company's recent investments there. Weeks after tapping president of Rent.com Amit Jain to be the president of Uber India, the ride-hail company announced it is investing $50 million in Hyderabad to build its largest international headquarters over the next five years.
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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