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Micab partners with Huawei for customized tablets for drivers

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TAXI-HAILING firm Micab Systems Corp. formalized a deal with technology giant Huawei on Friday for the provision of customized tablets for its drivers.

In a press briefing in Taguig City, Micab Chief Executive Officer Eddie F. Ybañez and Huawei executives bared the details of their partnership.

“Huawei is very instrumental in terms of implementing Micab, because basically what they’ve done is they’ve customized these tablets to work in the environment inside taxi cabs. They created a specialized hardware for us to fit the taxi setup, and created a customized software because of the heat and the effects to the battery,” Mr. Ybañez said.

Henry Hsiao, Huawei’s account manager for the Device Marketing & Service Department, said the two companies started talking in 2017 on the partnership. Huawei sent engineers to the Philippines to study the nature of the tablets’ usage, and from there developed their existing consumer tablets to meet the observed conditions.

He noted that unlike the products available in the market, the customized tablet for Micab has a stronger battery that can keep running all day, can withstand the Philippine heat even when mounted on a dashboard, and is more durable in its ability to handle vibration in the car.

“Micab is the first one in the Philippine market (to tap Huawei) for the taxi industry. So I see it’s very interesting, a project with huge potential,” Mr. Hsiao said.

Around 6,000 seven-inch tablets have already been deployed for operations nationwide. Mr. Ybañez told BusinessWorld that taxi operators pay P600 a month for the plan, which includes the Huawei tablet and the long-term evolution (LTE) data connection, provided by Smart Communications, Inc.

Mr. Hsiao noted that Huawei has a dedicated team that continues to study how to develop bigger tablets to cater to Micab’s need for advertising placements.

Micab uses ads to generate revenue, through a separate partnership with Japanese company Hallohallo Business Inc. So far, around 500 10-inch tablets have been deployed for this purpose. These are attached to the back of the front seats for the passengers to view.

The company initially ordered 12,000 of the customized seven-inch tablets from Huawei. They already took hold of the 6,000 and will receive the remaining tablets as it expands its taxi fleet.

Since it was accredited by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in April, Micab now runs a combined 6,000 taxis in Cebu, Manila, and Baguio. The company said it is working to increase the numbers to 5,000 units in Cebu by June, and 5,000 in Manila by July. Mr. Ybañez said they only have 1,600 taxis in Manila as of now, which is far below the demand for 25,000 trips that they receive every day.

He told BusinessWorld that the ride-hailing service will be entering Iloilo next month with 300 taxis. They also have Davao and Cagayan De Oro in the pipeline, scheduled for next year. — Denise A. Valdez