Sony Is Launching Japanese Ride-Hailing Service As Uber Ponders Similar Action

Khosrowshahi noted that Japan's traditional taxi firms have failed to keep up with the technological advances.

Khosrowshahi's enthusiasm echoes comments from Uber's Asia head Brooks Entwistle, who told Bloomberg this year that Japan will be a major focus for the company in 2018.

Asked about SoftBank, which in January became Uber's biggest investor, Khosrowshahi said the Japanese telecoms and investment company is "simply the smartest money in the transportation space".

The intelligent ride hailing service is due to launch in the spring, the report adds, but it is not clear if Japan is being used as a test market before launching a similar service in the USA or elsewhere in the world.

Sony's partnership is the latest in a growing array of tie-ups between taxi firms and tech companies, who see Japan as a potentially lucrative market but are prevented from offering ride-sharing services by stringent rules. Toyota Motor Corp has said it will take a stake in taxi-hailing service JapanTaxi, set up by Japan's largest taxi firm, Nihon Kotsu. Uber is also said to be in talks for a venture with Daiichi Koutsu.

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Matthews then asked the ultimate question, "Should we be anxious ?" and Manigault nodded. In a million years, never", she responded. "She has no contact now".

Five taxi operators will form a joint venture with Sony to build the platform.

Pictured here is a taxi driving through an underground tunnel in Tokyo, Japan.

Such moves are in marked contrast to the Travis Kalanick "foot to the metal" Uber era approach to regulatory roadblocks - which the company used to expand rapidly across the globe in its early years, exploiting the disconnect between new technologies and policymakers' understand of them. But Uber saw four listless years in Japan, achieving less than 1 percent of monthly rides in Tokyo, the world's largest single cab market.

"Since we launched in Morocco over two years ago, there has been a lack of clarity about new platforms like Uber and how they fit into the existing transport model", Uber said in a statement. China's Didi Chuxing Technology Co., another ride-hailing firm backed by SoftBank, is also said to be working on its own dispatch system in partnership with Japanese taxi operators.

  • Darren Santiago