China's bigger equivalent to Uber is making a move on the dockless-bike sector, becoming a major competitor to pure-play Chinese firms Mobike and Ofo. In fact, some Chinese analysts believe that Didi Chuxing is positioning itself to either power away from the market leaders, or absorb one or both of them.
That the $56-billion app-based ride-share company with 450 million registered users is now making such a move is a significant development for the booming dockless bike-share sector. The company describes itself as “a world-leading transportation platform” and has ambitions beyond ride-share.
Didi is currently trialling e-bike rental services in China, reports TechNode. It has also taken on some of the obligations of Bluegogo, the dockless bike-share company which collapsed late last year. Once the third player behind Ofo and Mobike, Bluegogo's failure – billed by wags as "Bluegonegone" – had been thought of by many as a precursor of dockless collapses to come so its partial rescue by Didi confounds these predictions of the dockless bubble bursting.
Didi has acquired many of Bluegogo's bikes and also its registered users, who will be offered app credits in lieu of the deposits they lost when Bluegogo collapsed. Didi has not acquired the Bluegogo brandname or its debts of $1.5-million.
Bluegogo bikes will be rentable via the main Didi app. Ofo bikes are already available via the Didi app, and Didi is a major investor in Ofo.
BikeBiz has published 65+ articles on the dockless bike-share sector. Billions of dollars have been pumped into the sector over the last two years. Two days ago the UK and US dockless sectors were discussed in the Spokesmen Cycling Industry Roundtable podcast, with principals from Ofo, Mobike and Ireland's Urbo. Antonia Roberts, director of bike-share overarching organisation BikePlus was also part of the 55-minute conversation, which can be heard below.