By Markus Barnikel
2012 marked a big year for the sharing economy with new launches, explosive growth rates, and millions spent in venture capital funding. In 2013, the growth of the ridesharing market is set to grow thanks to three key trends.
Increasing smartphone adoption will continue to fuel the growth of ridesharing in 2013. Today, one in five people check their smartphone every 10 minutes and mobiles will overtake PCs this year as the most common web access device worldwide. With access to real-time location data, scheduling and payment at the touch of a button, smartphones are empowering people to travel more efficiently by taking the inconvenience out of sharing a car. Today 20% of visits to carpooling.com come from mobile devices, up 5% since last year. Interestingly, we have also noticed that people are increasingly organizing their trips last minute. The majority of users booking rides only 3.16 days before departure. Instead of buying a car that sits idle 20 hours a day, it's clear that people are increasingly using their phone to find a vehicle on-the-go.
In our digital age, data is the new currency. The rise of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have rapidly increased the adoption of real world identities across the web. This rising openness to sharing personal data online has in turn fueled the growth of collaborative consumption by making people more accountable and allowing a more human, personal connection to be made. In the words of Rachel Botsman and Lisa Gansky, trust and transparency are the key foundations of the peer-to-peer marketplace. In contrast to e-commerce sites like eBay (where people still commonly use pseudonyms like bestseller45), most transactions on peer-to-peer networks involve meeting a person and not a product. When you think about the difference between buying a book online and sharing a four-hour drive with someone, it becomes clear why knowing the person's real identity, why seeing their picture, becomes a crucial determinant to the booking process. Online user profiles improve the overall ridesharing experience by helping to increase the reliability, safety, and social aspect of sharing a ride. People can now travel with those they trust. Whether they care about CO2 emissions, what type of car they will travel in, or what languages someone speaks, they can choose the right carpooling companion for them.
Intermodal mobility is also a key trend defining the long-term strategy and outlook of the ridesharing industry. The creation of multimodal platforms that intelligently integrate public transport, commercial carriers, and peer-to-peer services represents the future of travel: improving capacity and making our transportation systems more efficient, safe, and secure. Today when people think of mobility, they don't think of a vehicle or a company. They're looking for the best way to get from A to B. At the end of the day, our users are looking for low-cost and convenient mobility solutions. Thanks to partnerships with companies like Eurolines, Deutsche Bahn, and Air Berlin, we have already started to integrate bus, flight, and train tickets on our ridesharing platform. Interestingly, compared to the third quarter of 2012, today we receive 53% more user enquiries on bus offers on our platform. What's clear is that we need to stop thinking of peer-to-peer ridesharing as a competitor for public or B2C transportation systems but rather as the perfect complement--transforming the empty seats in private vehicles into an extensive transport network.
Smartphone adoption, open data, and intermodal mobility are three key trends that will impact the way we travel in the near future. Today, over half the world's population lives in cities and by 2050 this is expected to reach 70%. With a growing population, the pressure to find new ways to reduce traffic, gas consumption, and carbon emissions is only going to intensify. As our planet becomes more urban, our cities need to get smarter. Sharing vehicles is not only going to be a fun and convenient way of traveling in the future, it's going to become a necessity.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.