Cab aggregator Ola has launched a lightweight mobile website that would give customers an app-like experience while consuming lesser amount of data when compared to normal websites. The lightweight site can be used to book an auto or a cab across the categories that Ola offers. Once the entry location and drop location is entered, the customer is required to enter their mobile number for authentication. Ola is targeting tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 cities of India with the new launch.

Currently on the site, a user can choose to pay using cash or Ola money, however, a customer needs to access the Ola app to add or recharge Ola Money. Ola’s claims that its lightweight site consumes only 50 KB data while loading the site for the first time and 10 KB on subsequent loads as per the company. Ola says that on a 2G network, the web app has recorded an initial load time of 3.4 seconds while repeat load time is less than one second.

Note that Ola had started offline booking option in October last year. Through Ola Offline, a customer can book a cab by sending an SMS and effectively allows users to book cabs in spite of low or no internet connectivity. With the new website launch, Ola is basically reversing its app-only strategy and start to focus on users without a smartphone.

Other companies with lite version

Several companies apart from Ola have introduced lightweight websites and apps to help overcome network issues faced by users.
-Flipkart re-launched a ‘Lite’ version of its website in 2015, less than a year after going app-only.
-Lenskart also launched a lightweight app that requires no Internet connectivity for shopping.
-Payments company MobiKwik also has a feature that allows users to make payments offline in areas with low connectivity.
-In the real estate space. In the real estate space, Housing.com, Proptiger and  Magic bricks have a lightweight version of their services.
-Social media giant Facebook also has a Lite version of its app in March 2016 which hit 100 million users; it is largely targetted at countries like India with patchy connectivity.

Why companies are launching lite versions: A majority of India’s 391 million internet users are on cellular or a mobile device, which is prone to several network issues. In fact in April last year, India stood at the 44th position among 50 different countries in a Global Connectivity Index (GCI) report compiled by Huawei. India had a GCI score of 30, that put the country among ‘Starters’ who are still working on building a reliable connectivity, and on spreading the connection base.

(With additional inputs from Salman SH)