There is little question on which between local and international ride-hailing services are dominating in Southeast Asia. And among the regional icons of that industry, Grab from Singapore stands at the top. Its infrastructure is well known to have been bolstered by its acquisition last year of the assets left behind by the abortive Uber SEA operations, and they have even opened offices in Seattle to bring in American know-how. But that is not enough for Grab, which has plans to evolve its ride-hailing app to something more. They have partnered with a fellow local online service for that purpose.
Tech Crunch reports that Grab has taken steps to integrate a new feature into their mobile app that goes beyond its usual stomping grounds of ride-hailing: video sharing. It is teaming up with HOOQ, another Singapore-based company that provides video on demand streaming, and is considered the Southeast Asian-grown Netflix. This is another indicator of Grab’s planned directional shift towards providing entertainment, manifest in the basic mobile games that can also be played on the Grab app. The company has hit on the idea that they could keep their consumers invested in their online platform even when not needing a ride, by offering other services.
Initial steps towards making Grab a do-anything “super app” were initiated in 2018 when they inaugurated a new partner platform system. They offered to companies in Southeast Asia that are in “adjacent industries” to ride-hailing, the chance to integrate their services online with the Grab app. This evolution of the Grab platform would serve to not only secure but expand its current base of around 130 million registered users across 168 cities in eight countries as of February 2018. Only truly giant networking platforms like Google and Facebook have more regulars than Grab’s in SEA.
Singapore itself and Indonesia were the first countries with a Grab presence to have access to HOOQ streaming content on their versions of the company’s mobile app. This is understandable being the former is Grab’s home and the latter has the fourth largest national population in the world. The feature will be represented with a HOOQ “Video” tile on the Grab app interface, and users will have three months of access to the HOOQ streaming library, containing Hollywood and Asian media, directly played on Grab’s app. The next countries where this feature will be implemented include Thailand and the Philippines.
The HOOQ streaming service was launched in 2015 as a joint venture between Singtel of Singpaore and major studios Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures. Its CEO Peter Bithos assures Grab users that the whole HOOQ media library will be accessible on Grab when the feature is fully implemented in future.
Images from YugaTech and RR-Magazine