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Connected cars becoming reality with Ola Play

| | Updated on: Jan 20, 2017

Ride-sharing app expands ‘Play’ service to Prime users

Connected cars or vehicles connected with different technologies are soon turning into a reality in India with ride-sharing app Ola.

The Bengaluru-based company, in a bid to outdo its arch rival Uber, is betting big on its connected in-car entertainment platform called Ola Play, which was launched in November last year for Ola Select (its subscription model) customers in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.

The company, founded by two IITians Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, has now extended the service on its Prime segment, its premium car segment comprising SUVs and sedans, in the existing cities. The service has in just three months witnessed a three-fold jump in Ola Select membership and is likely to now boost the Prime segment. Among all the segments Ola has on its app, the four major segments of ride-sharing category are Micro (small cars), Mini (hatchbacks), Prime (sedans) and Share (pool cars). While Ola doesn’t reveal growth numbers of its different categories, industry experts tracking the segment said that Micro and Mini contribute about more than 50 per cent of the sales. The rest all comes from share, prime, kaali-peeli (taxi), lux (luxury segment) and others.

Ankit Jain, Head of Ola Play, in a conversation with BusinessLine, said that in-car entertainment service was introduced to provide a better consumer experience for the Select Ola members, who paid a fee to avail themselves of the service. “We witnessed a three-fold jump in the subscription number and we thought it to extend the service in the Prime category free of cost to create a loyal and repeat customers based on the feedbacks we got. We expect service to boost our revenues but more importantly we want to differentiate ourselves from all other global ride-sharing apps. We are the first to come up with such a service.” He also added that globally connected cars are focussed towards the drivers and not customers.

Jain said that, “With Ola Play, the customer basically has the entire control of the entertainment system in his control and experience good entertainment, as they travel through the busy roads of the cities for over 45 minutes to sometimes 2 hours. It is a genuine Indian problem and we are providing entertainment for free. Customer does not have to spend his data to consume entertainment during the ride.”

However, Jain did not wish to comment on whether the service would lead to an increase in fare prices of Prime. He also did not comment on how much the company is planning to invest on this service.

Meanwhile, the company has partnered with Apple Music, Sony LIV, AIB, TVF, Audio Compass and Fynd, for music, movies, tour guides, and window shopping among others.

The service comes with an infotainment tablet, attached to the back of the front seat, that can be accessed using a mobile app.

On the opportunity for such connected cars, Jain said that globally the ride-sharing apps have become commoditised and such a service will act as a differentiator for Ola. “We are looking to have the service in about 50,000 cars by March.

Published on January 12, 2018

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