Mobility as a service (MaaS) is the new trendy term of the tech bloggers. In my opinion, mobility was always a service, even if you have your own car, because you pay for parking, tolls, etc. The new term refers to shareable bikes and scooters, the hottest gadgets of the Silicon Valley in 2018. But why is it so hot these days?
First things first. The problem, mobility, is global. Every single metropolis has this issue, and the world population is still growing. People are spending more and more time stuck in traffic, so there is a lot of value to be added with better mobility. Moving forward, the solution is not high tech. Most of the MaaS startups use electric power and some simple hardware inside to avoid thefts. So why just now?
Segway was supposed to change the world 20 years ago. But the timing was not good; it wasn't socially accepted, people thought it was dangerous, and it was expensive, one Segway machine used to cost about $1000. This is a capital intensive business. Producing hardware isn't difficult, but yet you need a lot of money. Now it is much cheaper to produce it than before.
Price is not the issue anymore, users are ok with price and ok with riding it. But the other citizens are still getting used to it, so as the cities. Suddenly, thousands of scooters and bikes are at the sidewalk, what should the pedestrians do? This was indeed one big issue that made cities like San Francisco to ban those rides from the streets until the situation was well discussed and regulated. In the majorities of the cities, you need the approval to run your bikes or scooters. Those are not the only problems. Especially in Brazil, maintenance has been a challenge, people don't take care, because it doesn't belong to them.
Despite all that, I firmly believe in the success of the industry. Mobility is part of our routine, and every type of ride: bikes, scooters, buses, subways… every kind of transportation is made for one type o trip, to bring mobility you must combine all of them. In this case, the primary value added is time, the most valuable asset of our lives. In São Paulo a trip with a shared bike could cost as much as an Uber ride, but much faster due to traffic jams. This is one of the reasons the number of trips had increased 1400% from last year.