UPDATE, September 19th: In a statement (in full below), Ola indicated that pricing Ola Play in-cab was a test. “As part of our ongoing efforts towards understanding our customers’ behaviour and their consumption pattern better, we are always piloting new features, this new model is one of them,” an Ola Spokesperson told MediaNama. The company did not answer a query about how billing would work, but a rider told MediaNama that the Rs 10 was added to his bill, and Ola waived the fee at the end of the ride.
Earlier, 18th September:
Ola’s in-cab entertainment system Ola Play is now charging users in-cab Rs 10. This presumably applies only to users who didn’t already book a Prime Play cab. Ola Play works out of a seat-mounted tablet and comes with a select apps like Apple Music and ALT Balaji. Ola has also partnered with creators like All India Bakchod and Pocket Aces.
— SG (@shrinivassg) September 16, 2018
Not all cabs come equipped with Ola Play, and the service is usually on cabs in the Prime category. Even within that category, only Prime Play cars have the setting enabled by default. Going freemium could help the slightly costlier Prime Play cabs. Ola will be able to price them in the same tier as Ola Prime cabs without Ola Play, while still making money on some of these rides.
It’s unclear whether this is a test or already fully rolled out. It’s also unclear how billing will be handled — although it seems likely that the Rs 10 will just be added to the fare.
Ola Play, Pause or Forward?
Interestingly, a FactorDaily report from January 2017 seems to suggest that Ola Play is not found very often even in Ola Prime cabs. At that time, Ola said that it would expand the service to 50,000 cars by March 2017, but we currently do not have any details on these. It is also unclear as to how many cabs Ola currently has under its Prime category and how many users have sought Prime memberships.
Here’s Ola’s full statement: “Ola Play, an industry-first connected car platform, is a great example of personalised ride experience that Ola strives to provide for each and every one of its millions of customers. Data science helps us to understand the kind of ambience the commuter prefers in the cab; taking into account volume levels, infotainment genre preferences, playlist preferences, down to leveraging data to build new context and destination driven experiences. As part of our ongoing efforts towards understanding our customers’ behaviour and their consumption pattern better, we are always piloting new features, this new model is one of them.”
Ola Play’s content deals
— This month, Ola recently included food ordering app Foodpanda — which it now owns — on Ola Play.
— In August, Ola partnered with YuppTV to have live television on the platform.
— In July, streaming service Spuul was added to the platform.
— This January, Unacademy co-founder Gaurav Munjal said that the education platform, which crossed 3 million registered users, would be available soon on Ola Play.
— Last year, Ola added content from ALT Balaji and Eros Now.