Didi has a brilliant plan to contain the threat of China’s bike-sharing services

China’s Didi Chuxing unveiled its bike-sharing platform today and, as expected, it looks like a very aggressive move to protect its position.

When Didi first announced its plans to offer rides from Ofo and Bluegogo inside its app, I argued that this was far from a positive gesture since the ultimate goal is control.

By introducing its own service inside its own app to its own (massive) userbase, Didi aims to tame the two companies. It wants them to exist as features inside its app, rather develop popular and independent services that could challenge Didi’s dominance. Offering their services unbranded inside the Didi app gives users less reason to open, or even install, any bike-sharing app.

That’s exactly what has happened, as this screenshot tweeted by Tech In Asia reporter Eva Xiao illustrates.

The situation might sound absurd since Didi claims an incredible 450 million users, it has billions of dollars in the bank and is China’s dominant ride-sharing service by some margin after it consumed Uber’s China business. But bike-sharing startups do pose a very real threat.

Already, Ofo and arch rival Mobike have chipped away at Didi’s share of short journeys and struck deals with local governments with the aim of solving congestion problems. Now, they are looking to expand beyond that. Mobike, for example, has tested ride-sharing services. Mobike and Ofo both claim over 100 million registered users, so action is best taken sooner rather than later. The question is whether Didi’s move is too late.

This devilish strategy works because Ofo and Bluegogo have no choice but to be a part of the platform due to their ties with Didi. Ofo counts Didi as an investor and is already integrated into its app, while Didi swooped in to save Bluegogo after it went broke. It’s no surprise that Mobike, the other bike-sharing unicorn which no Didi connection, didn’t elect to be a part of the program.

Didi didn’t make mention of this in its announcement. Instead senior VP Fu Qiang said the new service would “upgrade its short-trip mobility strategy and provide various mobility options and better travel experiences for travelers on the ‘last three kilometers.'”

“This illustrates DiDi’s efforts to continuously improve our one-stop transportation platform,” Fu added.

Didi drove Uber out of China, and now it is showing it can be ruthless even to one of its own flock.