India’s Ola Unveils Entertainment Tools for Ride-Sharing Users

Ola. the ride-hailing app.

Photographer: Namas Bhojani/Bloomberg

Ola, India’s largest ride-hailing startup, wants to make sure its customers are comfortable and entertained, even if they’re stuck in a traffic jam.

Ride-sharing passengers will be able to access music, video and also tweak car settings such as air conditioning, using a console and connected services from Ola. After initially introducing it for select customers, the platform will be rolled out in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi to more than 50,000 cars by March next year, Ola said in a statement Tuesday.

The initiative is part of a push by Ola to offer new services and lure customers away from Uber Technologies Inc., which is also seeking to amass users in India. Ola, based in Bangalore, said that it’s teaming up with Apple Music, Sony and other partners to offer an array of entertainment. Uber has worked with Pandora Media Inc. to let passengers stream music during car rides.

“Ola is realizing there is a huge upside to bringing about an improved experience,” said Satish Meena, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “They are adding offerings on their app which will enhance the customer stickiness and catch up with Uber in that aspect.”

Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said more partnerships are in the works. He declined to give more details on the deal with Apple Inc. He said other developers will also be able to build apps for the platform. Ola’s customers spend more than 60 million minutes in cars every day, the company said.

Cars being developed with Ola’s recent partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. will have the connected car hardware and software pre-installed, the companies said.

“Ola Play is the globe’s first complete connected car platform for the ride-sharing world,” Aggarwal said. “Whoever has been at the mercy of the driver who plays his favorite radio station at full volume will appreciate this.”

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