A Look At The Data: Uber Is Losing Share To Lyft Across The U.S. and Via in NYC

There have been lots of stories written comparing the ridesharing services Uber and Lyft. The bottom line after reading these stories is that the two services are largely similar. Maybe Uber gets to a pick up a little quicker due to a larger number of drivers, but due to Uber’s higher surge pricing (Uber’s “Surge Pricing” caps at 8X the normal fare while Lyft’s “Prime Time” pricing caps at 3X), Lyft may have an advantage on the cost side. Uber and Lyft have so dominated ridesharing, that the #3 player in the U.S., Sidecar, recently announced they are shutting down their ridesharing service so they “can work on strategic alternatives and lay the groundwork for the next big thing.”

However, while the New York Times recently wrote about the emerging duopoly in the ride-hailing industry, in New York City (the NYTs own backyard), there is a rapidly growing third player, Via, that markets itself as “Smarter than the subway. Better than the bus. Cheaper than a taxi.”. In this post I analyze mobile app data provided by SimilarWeb, a digital market intelligence company used by 100,000s of businesses for global cross-device strategic insights. The mobile app data is specific to U.S. Android phone users. I analyzed that data to get insight in to who’s winning and losing in the the battle for rideshairng marketshare in the U.S. overall, and in NYC in particular. The results were surprising.

Uber Is Growing Its Dominant Share of Android App Installs in the U.S.

Uber has raised $6.6 billion (vs. just $1 billion for Lyft until last month), and Uber has spent a lot of that money successfully driving downloads of its mobile app. As a result, Uber dominates in terms of the percentage of U.S. Android phones with its app. At 18.3% penetration of Android phones, Uber’s penetration is 10.9X that of Lyft’s 1.7% penetration (given Via is only in NYC and recently entered Chicago, we’re not including Via in our national overview).

% of U.S. Android Phones With Uber Or Lyft Installed

Uber’s dominant position in terms of app installs is growing. Over the last five months Uber has grown penetration of Android phones by 46% (from 12.6% to 18.3%) outpacing the 38% growth of Lyft’s penetration (to 1.7%). If the two of them made up 100% of the market, Uber would have 91.6% share of total ridesharing apps on Andorid phones as of November, up from 91.2% in June.

However, Lyft Dominates In Terms of Android Daily App Usage Per Install

Obviously, an app install is only of value if a user actually engages with the app and orders a car. Here’s where Lyft appears to dominate, with 7.8% of it’s installed base using the app on a daily basis, 3.4X the 2.3% daily rate at which Uber users engage with the app on the average day.

% of U.S. Android Phones With Uber or Lyft Installed Engaging With Each App On An Avg Day

While Lyft has grown it’s daily open rate by 18% in the last five months (to 7.8%), Uber’s open rate has actually decreased by 4% since June (to 2.3%). The inference here is that as Uber has increased its spend on app installs, it has successfully driven more installs, but those incremental app installs appear to be using the app less than earlier installs.

Lyft’s Share of Total Daily Android Ridesharing App Opens Is Growing

While Uber still dominates in terms of the total percentage of Android ridesahring app users opening the app on average day in the U.S., at 76.3%, that’s down from 78.9% in June, a 3% decrease in share in five months.

Via Appears to Be Gaining Share on Both Lyft and Uber in NYC

Most of the U.S. has not even heard of Via, the ridesharing company founded by two Israelis in 2012. Yet since its launch in New York City in August, 2013, it has been building its ridesharing user base in NYC. While Uber and Lyft are largely similar in their ridesharing solutions, Via is going after the Holy Grail of urban mobility, a service that pairs the point-to-point convenience of a taxi with the low cost of a bus or subway ride. Via accomplishes this in NYC by offering it’s service for just $5 plus tax on weekdays, from 6:30am — 9pm, anywhere in Manhattan south of 110th St.

Map of Via’s Service Area in NYC

Via picks up passengers and drops them off within a block of their desired locations, and is able to charge just $5 because riders share trips with others going in the same direction. It’s an extraordinarily complex operational endeavor to do it well. Which is why, while both Uber and Lyft have carpooling services (uberPOOL and Lyft Line), neither solution is as good as Via, because neither service is optimized for the car pooling task, which creates problems for both passengers and drivers.

It’s also interesting to note that Via is innovating on the driver side of the ridesharing marketplace equation, by guaranteeing drivers an hourly pay that generally approximates what drivers make from Uber or Lyft, without the variability. A guaranteed wage is appealing to many drivers, at a time when getting drivers is increasingly difficult.

Both Uber and Lyft understand that if they are going to be truly cheaper than car ownership, their apps should be used in combination with pubic transit. Thus, both Uber and Lyft have been working to find allies among public transit agencies, with the January 11th announcement of an Uber/TransLoc partnership just the latest indication of that strategy.

It’s impossible to do an apples-to-apples comparison of Via with the other services, because until Via introduced its service in Chicago on November 17th, it was just available in New York. But I still think the data can give us some meaningful directional insights.

First, though Uber is on roughly 2,000X more Andoid phones then Via in the U.S., and Lyft is on about 175X more, Via is growing it’s penetration of Android phones more than twice as fast as either of the other services.

Growth In App Install Penetration on U.S. Android Phones (June to Nov. 2015)

If you assume that 90% of Via’s app installs are in Manhattan, and adjust for Manhattan’s share of the U.S. population that Uber and Lyft cover, Via is installed on 1.3% of the Android phones in Manhattan, compared to the 1.7% of Android phones Lyft is on in the U.S. , and the 18.3% of phones Uber is on. So in New York, Via is a player in terms of app installs, and it’s growing faster

As stated before, app installs are only of interest if there is engagement with the app. Via is doing well there also as its grown the engagement of it’s installed base by 9% since June. In fact, if you adjust for the fact that Via is only available, at the moment, during the week, Via has the highest percentage of its installed base that engages with the app on a daily basis.

% of App Installs on U.S. Android Phones Engaged With On Average on A Daily Basis, Nov. 2015

Now I’m not suggesting that Uber and/or Lyft are in imminent danger of being disrupted by Via. What I am suggesting, is that, while the media is stating that the ridesharing industry is a monopoly or duopoly, data is indicating that there is an innovative third player, Via, emerging in the ridesharing category. And, if you don’t look at the data, “you’re just another person with an opinion”.

Now, I recognize that no analysis like this is perfect. Most notably, this analysis does not include data for non-Android users, which comprised 47% of the market in November per comScore. However, we still believe the Andorid data itself provides powerful directional insight.

You can see a deeper overview of SimilarWeb’s web data by clicking on Uber or Lyft.

Added 6:20pm Jan. 18: It has been pointed out to me by an informed party that most readers will infer that the app engagement data above is directly correlated to rides and revenues, and that such an inference would be incorrect. While I have no way to verify such statements one way or the other, I certainly appreciate that the correlation may not be as direct as one might assume.