Ola Play : Does it make sense?

Where is the ‘First Principle’?

Ola has launched Ola Play, an immersive in-car entertainment system, which lets users play music, change radio stations, control volume, internet, and air conditioning in their cabs.

Ola Play
Ola Play

Ola Play is powered by proprietary in-car and cloud technologies from Ola, by bringing advance car controls, choice of personalized content and a fully connected interactive experience for the user. Ola Play also allows various partners like Apple Music, Sony LIV, Audio Compass and Fynd to build a high quality interactive experience for users, which I believe will open up new revenue streams for Ola.

So far so good, rather awesome to see an Indian company pushing the tech envelope.

But Then..

Ola’s service sucks*. There is very little predictability in the service as opposed to Uber.

Ola is costlier (and has been playing India card to stop Uber’s growth).

Plus, Ola doesn’t give a F to customer security.

Not that I am saying Ola isn’t doing great – but going by “First Principles”, Ola Play seems to lack the thinking that went behind building Ola – i.e solve for customer pain point.

The only thing I, as a very regular Ola customer would expect is :
1. No more ‘Where do you want to go’ question from Ola driver, the moment I book the cab.
2. Drivers cancel/act randomly.
3. Drivers calling atleast 4-5 times to ask for the pickup location/direction (and no wonder, Ola fares so badly and topped the Truecaller numbers).

While Ola Play seems to be a great tech play, to me it makes no sense when all we as a customer want is a predictable experience (including surge pricing) and not a fancy one.
In fact, this reminds me of Taxiforsure – Ola saga. When Ola was busy killing TaxiForSure, TaxiForSure was busy partnering with Hungama to launch music service for its drivers (when they are idle). It’s all coming back to Ola, I believe.

Where was the first principle then and where is it now?

What’s your opinion? Take this short poll.

* : When I say, Ola service sucks- it is anecdotal as well as observation from people around me.

3 Replies

  1. Interesting thing is how will Ola recover the capex investment in hardware required for Ola Play (e.g. Wifi, Connected Car features etc.). I guess the users accessing SonyLiv, AppleMusic content in some form or the other will need to pay for the content. Will be interesting to see the amount of cash that they will burn in one year!

    • This is part of fund raising activity. Ola now positioning itself as a tech company (because Uber too is doing the same in US with ‘actual’ self-driving cars).

  2. Totally agree .. first fix the service then talk about add ons ..
    It’s like flipkart focusing on ads when Amazon is eating their lunch with Next day delivery on Prime ..
    It’s also the problem with investors who suddenly want “business model” and profitability now that these guys are running out of money to burn ..