Careem and Uber Drive Up User Engagement in the Middle East
Last month the Dubai-based on-demand transportation app Careem acquired Savaree, a cab-hailing app in Lahore, Pakistan. The move was deemed as part of Careem’s strategy to compete with Uber, which had launched in Pakistan earlier in March. But Pakistan won’t be their first battlefield – Careem and Uber have been competing in the Middle East since 2013, when Uber launched in Dubai, its first point of entry in the region. In order to better understand how mobile users in the Middle East have embraced ride-sharing apps, let’s look into the performance of all three dominant apps in the region – Careem, Brazil-based Easy Taxi, and Uber.
Our team at 7Park Data checked the growth in install rates and monthly usage this year compared with the first quarter in 2015, in the region’s biggest markets: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We found stark differences in usage across the countries.
Overall, Careem and Uber are gaining momentum in both installs and monthly active users in the Middle East. While Uber remains popular among riders, Careem is catching up thanks to a growth spurt at the beginning of this year. Below are snapshots comparing year-over-year growth in installs and monthly usage of Uber, Careem and Easy Taxi.
In case of Saudi Arabia, Careem has outpaced Uber with 308.9% growth in install rate and 546.2% in monthly active users this year compared to the same time in 2015. Note that all three apps are on an upward trend in the country: Uber follows Careem with 231.4% growth in app installs and 204.1% in usage and Easy Taxi trails with 3.8% growth in installs and 2.5% in monthly active users.
Besides its modest growth in Saudi Arabia in 2016, Easy Taxi’s user engagement in the Middle East is declining, as Uber continues to permeate the market and Careem races to gain more riders.
“Uber has a fantastic record of expanding into new markets and earning significant share,” says Byrne Hobart, the Lead Internet Analyst at 7Park Data. “Careem’s continued growth indicates that they’ve established a competitive beachhead in multiple markets.”
If the current usage trends continue, on-demand transportation apps will keep growing in the Middle East. How they’ll share the user market and compete in different countries will, to some degree, depend on each company’s ability to cater to the unique needs of local riders and local government regulations — both important factors in gaining access to users and keeping them coming back.
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Ed note: We’ve updated the Growth in App Installs chart in this post on May 25, 2016.