Uber’s retreat from Southeast Asia makes India, the Middle East and Latin America the next battlegrounds

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Uber is whittling down the international markets it operates in so it can focus on core regions it feels like it can win.

Uber’s path to global dominance was once perceived to be a certainty as it rapidly expanded into new cities around the world, placing special importance on major markets like China, India and Southeast Asia.

Uber’s mission was to bring reliable transportation for everyone, to everywhere. But after it sold its businesses in Russia, China and Southeast Asia to local competitors, “everywhere” has shrunk to the U.S., Europe, parts of Latin America, India and the Middle East.

The international selloffs told us two key things: Subsidies — bonus payments to drivers to retain and attract more vehicles — cut into its business, making it too expensive to compete against its homegrown competitors in China and Russia. Second, the strategies that helped the company maintain its dominance on its home turf would not always work against well-funded players in foreign markets.

Uber’s latest retreat, selling its Southeast Asia business to Grab, was a stark example of this same phenomenon.

In the wake of Didi’s acquisition of UberChina, local regional players like Grab thought Uber’s withdrawal from China would create more competition as it would free Uber up to invest more in their region.

“With the deal in China, we expect Uber to turn more attention and divert resources to our region,” Grab CEO Anthony Tan wrote in an email to employees in the wake of the merger.

But recent comments from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi indicated the company’s $ 700 million investment in Southeast Asia since it launched five years ago was not panning out in the way Uber hoped it would.

“The economics of that market are not what we want them to be,” Khosrowshahi said at the New York Times Dealbook conference. “I think it’s over-capitalized at this point. We’re going in, and we’re leaning forward. But I’m not optimistic that market is going to be profitable any time soon.”

In addition to capital, Grab has long touted its hyperlocal advantage over Uber. Even in the face of growing concern that Uber would double down on its efforts in the region, Tan continued to believe that advantage would be what helped the company become the dominate player.

“But we have seen that when the local champion stays true to their beliefs and strengths, they can prevail,” Tan wrote in his email to employees after Uber exited China.

While the Grab deal was in part an admission that the company couldn’t compete with its homegrown rival, it was also a sort of call to arms in markets like India, Latin America and the Middle East.

So what does Uber have to do?

Each region requires a different strategy. Through its three international exits, the company has learned it’s not enough to throw cash at a market and hope that the strategy that helped it grow in the U.S. will work elsewhere. The primary thing Uber has to do is to become more attuned to the local nuances of the market.

India

In the case of India, Uber’s chief competitor is Ola, which saw Uber’s exit from China as a reassuring sign, a source close to the company told Recode at the time. Given the similarities in the complexities of the Chinese and Indian markets, Uber’s loss in China, the source said, meant Uber would have an equally difficult time gaining traction in India.

Indeed, India is a vast market that accounts for 10 percent of Uber’s trips with 10 million rides a week, so ceding ground there will be undoubtedly damaging to the company.

“India is a key component of our growth plan,” Khosrowshahi told the Economic Times during a recent trip to India. “If you look at the market, it’s one of our healthiest markets in terms of growth rates.”

But the ride-hail company has a tough battle ahead as it fights it out with a competitor that is in more than 100 cities, has its own digital wallet called OlaMoney and offers unique services like Prime Play — a service that comes with an in-car entertainment platform for longer trips.

During a recent trip to India, Khosrowshahi admitted that the company needs to better serve the local needs of its consumers and drivers.

“As a global company, we’re constantly building out systems and technologies that are global in nature, but in a country like India we have to be able to be relevant locally as well,” Khosrowshahi said during a recent trip there.

The company recently matched Ola’s own motorcycle-hailing and auto-rickshaw-hailing products. This, however, will be the second time Uber is attempting to launch an auto-rickshaw service after shuttering a similar pilot in 2015 — so doing it right is no small feat.

Uber has to also contend with a decreasing albeit still relatively high proportion of India’s consumers who haven’t adopted credit cards or don’t have bank accounts, making it more difficult to tap into digital services like ride-hail. To solve that issue, Ola built out a payments platform that can be refilled with cash. Grab has done the same.

The company is also still facing backlash from some drivers complaining of low fares. Uber embarked on a campaign to win back its drivers in the U.S., and the expectation is it will do the same for its international markets.

Latin America

In Latin America, the company has seen incredible success as the region quickly became its fastest growing. But Didi’s recent entrance into the market through an acquisition of Brazilian player 99 and its early recruitment efforts in Mexico gives reason for concern for Uber.

Uber is also still navigating regulatory hurdles in Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest market by population that only recently came out of its longest-ever recession. That means the market is still incredibly price sensitive. Parts of Latin America, like in India, also still rely heavily on cash payments.

So Uber has to focus on launching cost-effective services that still provide a level of convenience for consumers and is profitable for Uber.

Middle East

Didi is also an investor in Careem, Uber’s main rival in the Middle East and Pakistan. The startup was founded in 2013, but it has attracted more than $ 550 million in funding from players like Rakuten, Daimler and Coatue Management. Here, too, Uber has to navigate both cultural and economic realities that are often vastly different from that of the U.S.

Recently, for example, Saudi Arabia introduced value-added tax, which forced Uber to raise its prices.

Like in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the company’s strategy in the Middle East and North Africa has to be further customized around the local nuances of each country within the region. In other words, what works in Saudi Arabia may not work in Egypt.

Didi’s investments in regions around the world present a definite challenge to Uber. Ironically, with the Grab deal, Uber’s international strategy appears to look more like Didi’s as the company becomes pickier about which markets to enter.

That doesn’t mean the company isn’t open to making deals in those regions going forward. But, Uber is confident those deals will lean more in the company’s favor and doesn’t expect to pull its operations out of anymore major markets, according to sources familiar with the company’s thinking.

The company only attained a minority stake in the resulting merged entities that came out of its deals with Didi, Grab and Yandex. Uber doesn’t expect that to happen in the event that it strikes some form of an acquisition deal in places like India and the Middle East.

Ola and Uber also share an investor in SoftBank — a connection that may be a boon to any future deals in the way it was for Grab.

SoftBank, which recently acquired a 15 percent stake of Uber, publicly encouraged the company to focus on its core markets such as the U.S. and Europe. The firm holds a board seat in both companies, allowing merger talks between Grab and Uber to begin soon after SoftBank closed its funding deal with Uber.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and other awesome apps of the week

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A great battle royale game that’s sure to become one of the year’s most popular titles (and isn’t Fortnite!) is just one of our picks for this week’s “Awesome Apps of the Week.” In addition, we’ve got a great update for a tremendous iPad drawing app, a minimalist puzzle game, and more. Check out our […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is rolling out on mobile worldwide

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If you’ve been hankering to start kicking ass and taking names in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds aka PUBG, you’ll be glad to know that the blockbuster multiplayer game is now available on Android and iOS for free in the US and 122 other regions across the globe. The 100-player-battle-royale title previously soft-launched in Canada last week. China’s Tencent Games, which developed the mobile version in collaboration with PUBG Corp., is gradually rolling it out worldwide; although the company officially announced only the US release, I found it to be available on Google Play here in India at the time of writing. The true…

This story continues at The Next Web
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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds For iPhone, iPad, Android Officially Released In The US

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Finally, PUBG Mobile USA version APK for Android and iOS download links are officially out now in English. Here are the details.

[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

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Tencent’s version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds reaches iPhone & iPad

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Not to be outdone by Epic’s Fortnite, Tencent’s licensed version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — better known as PUBG — is now officially available for the iPhone and iPad.
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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is now on mobile in the US

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is now available on mobile in the US, on both iOS and Android. The game has already been live in Asia for quite a while and came to Canada last week, but there wasn’t a launch date for the US.

The US release might have been sped up by Fortnite Battle Royale launching on mobile, another battle royale-style game that takes PUBG’s core design and packages it up with better-looking graphics and some gameplay tweaks that have led to it breaking streaming records on Twitch.

The mobile version of PUBG was developed by Tencent, the Chinese conglomerate that owns WeChat and invests in games like League of Legends. The mobile PUBG is true to the full game, although the graphics have been pared down for mobile…

Continue reading…

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile is officially available as a global release

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Last Friday I did a hands-on with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile thanks to its availability as a soft-launch title in Canada. Today it would appear that the PUBG Mobile has launched worldwide minus of a few European regions, though it’s exactly the same version (0.3.2) as the Canadian release from last week. So short of the new areas that can access the download, nothing much has changed.

PUBG Mobile has gotten a lot of press lately with its apparent rush to market.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile is officially available as a global release was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds fights Fortnite on iPhone

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It is shaping up to be a spectacular month for battle royale games on iOS. After the hugely popular Fortnite landed in the App Store last week, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has made its way to iPhone and iPad. But there is a catch! PUBG was the king of battle royale games until Fortnite came along and stole its […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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”PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ Reveals Miramar Desert Map at Game Awards

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The game is pure fun and terror (hiding in a bathroom has never been more nerve-wracking), but it also currently comes with only one map, and as large at that map is, it’s starting to get stale. Fortunately, a new map is coming to the game, and it was properly shown off last night during the Game Awards. The new map is desert themed and is called Miramar. While the idea of a desert map usually connotes images of brown monotony, Miramar is actually quite varied, with all kinds of landscape features that will make for some great firefights and even crueler deaths.

The PC update that will add Miramar to the game will also add the new vaulting system, which will make PUBG a more nimble game. Few things are as frustrating as being shot at while running at a low fence and knowing that by the time you get over that tiny obstacle, you’ll be riddled with bullets. I’m very curious to see how the vaulting system will work on mobile or whether it will even make it to the platform. Now all we can do is be patient and hope to get PUBG on our phones sooner rather than later.

 

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