Ola has launched Ola Play, a cloud based proprietary in-car platform which will let users control the car and driver consoles from their smartphones or through the devices mounted in the car. Ola Play will be available for select Prime users in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, with plans for expansion to other cities and 50,000 vehicles by March 2017.
Ola Play will use custom user preferences and ride information like time and destination to offer recommendations in the ride. It will also let users tweak the in car air conditioning. The online cab aggregator has tied up with Qualcomm for this service and will offer music and video streaming from Apple Music, Sony LIV, Audio Compass and Fynd. Ola will also integrate Play into its Mahindra vehicles.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola’s co-founder and CEO mentioned that 60 million minutes (1 million hours) are spent in Ola cab rides daily. That’s about 9,800 hours daily across its 102 cities. This number will obviously be higher for metros and bigger cities, and if you take an average ride of 40 minutes, that comes to 245 rides in each city daily. This number is obviously skewed due to the services being available across 102 cities.
Last week, Ola launched a postpaid service called Ola Credit which would let its users pay for cab rides a week after they’d taken them. This service was only available to select users based on their transaction history. The company also saw a 30x surge in Ola Money usage especially in smaller towns and cities which are primarily more cash friendly, after the Indian government demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Ola has been concentrating on adding multiple features on its platform: the loyalty program Select was made available in Pune through paid memberships (it has features like no peak pricing, priority booking, Prime cabs at Mini fares, free WiFi, priority support, airport lounge access, top drivers and cars), Outstation cabs can be booked one way, peak price drops, car ride and availability tracking, luxury cars, SMS booking and easier ways to get a cab. All of these features primarily indicate that Ola is trying to get its users to use the app for a longer time, given that at its core nature, Ola is just a point to point transport app. Usually, users only think of the service when they’re mulling travel and get busy on their devices or people they’re travelling with etc. Offering Select memberships and other features ensures that users liken the “experience” akin to something like entertainment or being engaged with it other than treating it as a standalone transport app.