London minicab firm Addison Lee has reported that a quarter of all its bookings come via its iPhone app.
45,000 bookings a week are made using the free app, which has been downloaded more than 350,000 times, according to Addison Lee. In the first ten months of the year, the app has already taken £33 million, and is on track to take more than £50 million by the end of 2012.
The app works by locating customers using the GPS system in their smartphones. This means that customers do not need to type in their pick-up address; they can simply click the 'Find my location' button.
Addison Lee's fleet of 3,500 minicabs and 250 “VIP chauffeur cars” is managed by a computerised Auto Allocator that tracks all of its vehicles, constantly calculating the most efficient solution to pick up each passenger across the entire fleet. The company claims to offer an average pick-up time of four minutes in Central London.
Passengers are sent an SMS text message informing them when their car is on its way and again when it is waiting outside. These texts include the driver's mobile number and vehicle registration, so customers can identify their car safely and contact the driver directly should they need to.
As well as the iPhone app, Addison Lee has also created Windows Phone, Android, Nokia and BlackBerry apps and is currently assessing the potential of new technologies such as HTML5 and NFC.
“We offer a full range of apps, but our customers have really embraced the iPhone,” said Peter Ingram, Addison Lee’s IT Director.
Apps that use location-based technology to compare prices of minicab companies in the local area, enter their journey details and book are growing in popularity, with several companies now offering similar services for smartphone users.
“There have been a slew of copycat smartphone apps for taxi services since we launched, but no company can offer the scale and reliability that underpins the Addison Lee app,” said Ingram.
“Addison Lee’s huge growth over recent years has been founded on technology, so it’s natural for us to be at the forefront of mobile transport apps.”
For more on Peter Ingram's IT strategy at Addison Lee, see From cost centre to revenue generator