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

When you think of Sony, you would probably think about the PlayStation 4 game console and digital cameras first and foremost (and if you're a bit older, maybe the Walkman). Sony is very diversified, and a report is making the rounds that claims Sony is set to launch a ride-hailing service in Japan. Sony announced its plans along with partnerships that it has forged with several taxi firms in Japan.

image via wiiii

Sony will work with Daiwa Motor Transportation Corporation and five other taxi firms. The goal is to launch the new ride-hailing company this spring. The six taxi firms that are working with Sony have 10,000 vehicles combined and provide services mainly in Tokyo. Sony plans to use its AI tech to predict taxi demand and make sure that the right number of cars are available at all times.

Sony isn't alone in wanting to grab a bigger share of the ride-hailing pie in Japan; Uber has announced that it will expand further into the Japanese market. Uber plans to make its own partnerships in the same region.

"It's clear to me that we need to come in with partnership in mind, and in particular a partnership with the taxi industry here, which actually has a very, very strong product," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said, according to comments reported by Bloomberg. "But that product hasn't kept up with technological change."

The move by Uber might surprise many as the company had signaled that it might sell its southeast Asia unit to a rival company called Grab. Some see Japan as a good place for ride-hailing firms to compete as the smartphone market is mature there and Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics. The big reason that Uber and Sony are partnering with existing taxi companies is that strict rules bar non-professional drivers for offering taxi services.