Tan Kin Lian, the former NTUC Income CEO and presidential hopeful, has recently released an iPhone app to connect taxi drivers and customers. TABS stands for Taxi Automating Booking System (or perhaps it stands for Taxi Automated Booking System – both spellings are present on his web site).
The annoucement was picked up and duly reported in the Straits Times. Tan Kin Lian also released a PowerPoint presentation with his personal audio narration, which explains how the TABS service works.
Unfortunately, as many Singaporeans realised during last year’s Presidential elections, Mr Tan’s English isn’t the best around, and there was also an audible background hiss in the recording. I suggest that he should get a marketing kit professionally produced.
The response so far hasn’t been fantastic. For example, Mr Tan reported 47 customer and 26 taxi driver registrations on 19 Feb. This was after the news report on 18 Feb, so we can expect the response rate to drop drastically.
Despite this, I do think that TABS is a great idea. For one, it is company-independent. Any taxi driver from any taxi company can use this service. This potentially opens up the entire market. There is also greater choice and convenience for the customers, now that they can reach cabbies from all companies in a single platform. They can even decide the booking fee amount to pay, currently set at $1, $3, or $5.
On the downside, the TABS app doesn’t verify if a taxi driver is legitimate. This allows the possibility that customers are left in the lurch if the driver doesn’t show up.
However, if we take the TABS concept further, even private car drivers could potentially get into the game. Private cars for hire would be a great way to earn some extra cash for the car loan, especially in this difficult job market. (Of course, just don’t let LTA hear about it.)
TABS is a service that becomes useful only if many people are using it. If Mr Tan wishes this to succeed, he would need to invest a lot more time and money than just a blog and PowerPoint slideshow.
For once, I’m actually hoping he succeeds.
(The TABS iPhone app is now available in the App Store. The Android app is expected to arrive in the Marketplace in March 2012. You can also point your mobile browser to tabs.sg/mobile.)