A few months back, Ola introduced Ola Play for its prime customers in Bangalore, Delhi and slowly the feature was rolled out to other cities. I had a chance to have my hands on it and here is what it is all about.
Ola has been introducing new features to compete with its competition like Uber. Ola was the first one to introduce Ola Auto, the feature which is now introduced into Uber as well.
Ola Play is the ability for the user to control the entertainment system in the cab. The rider has an option to choose from variety of content that is provided to them. Ola has partnered with various companies to a wide variety of content. For instance, Ola has partnered with Apple to bring Apple Music streaming service into the system. Ola has also made the platform open so multiple developers could bring in interesting additions to the platform.
Ola has designed and retrofitted the cars with in-house hardware to bring in seamless experience. The platform consists of center console in place of the car’s entertainment system which acts as the control for the driver through which he could start ride and end a trip. A touch screen at back of the car connected with the center console serves as content control for the rider through which he could access the variety of contents that is available. Once the ride is started, the touch screen turns on itself bringing in the rider into the systems home screen through which he would be able to access various contents such as music and videos and movies. The content is streamed online and adjusts itself as per the rider. The system automatically syncs itself to the state you left it on during your previous ride.
The system runs on Android and is smooth through-out. I faced small problems in loading the movie page. Initially I thought that the issue is with the internet connection in the car not being fast enough to load the content, but I faced the same issue on my next trip too raising doubts that the fault might be with the application itself. But this could be easily fixed through a software update. There was also some minor troubles during which the song tracks failed to change and I had to change it manually.
The system remains on 24×7 when turned on and goes into deep sleep for few minutes during mid night for software updates. Ola charges a convenience fee for the added option but is free when you get automatically upgraded from other prime options. Ola targets people who are travelling for at least an hour within city during which an user might want some little entertainment. The good thing is Ola has an edge on Premium travel segment in car industry, the people who are willing to spend some extra bucks on luxury cab travel. Compared to Uber when I am choosing premium cab travel, I choose Ola just because of its added features like WiFi inside the car.
Ola owns about 75% of the market segment, but still reported loss during its last quarter. Its executives state that the company has a good future to look into. Ola raised 1.5 billion dollars recently and its spending’s on marketing and R&D for introducing new features seems to work out well as other market competitors are starting to feel the heat from Ola.