Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple makes Apple Music deal with Indian ride-hailing service Ola

In the LA Times, Tracey Lien reports that Apple has struck a deal with Indian ride-hailing service Ola to offer Apple Music to riders:

Ola, India’s largest ride-hailing company, announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Apple to offer Apple Music as part of the in-car experience. The firm, which also announced partnerships with Sony, Qualcomm and Audio Compass, said the service will be made available in some of its vehicles as part of a platform called Ola Play. When passengers book an Ola ride, they will be able to interact with an in-car tablet to control the vehicle’s air conditioning, music, watch videos and even read ebooks.

Hey, I can actually speak to this a little bit! I used Ola a few times the other week because I was in Agra, and there was no support for Uber in that city.1 Ola basically feels a lot like Uber, although not as good.

So it seems likely that on Ola’s part, this is an attempt to provide a competitive advantage over Uber, although as the article points out, Ola is the leading ride-hailing app in India, and Uber already provides similar functionality with Spotify in some places.

Apple stands to gain some data about the use of Apple Music (and possibly something related to cars), but it could also help provide some traction for Apple Music as a service in India? I’d doubt it’s terribly widespread currently.

Would this deal make me more likely to choose Ola over Uber? I have to say no, but that’s in large part because the bread-and-butter experience of ride-hailing on Uber has been, on the whole, so much more reliable for me.2

  1. Uber is actually pretty widespread in other places in India, though it’s been fascinating to see the cultural peculiarities. Almost without fail, when I get into an Uber, I’m asked where I’m going, even though I’ve already entered it into their app and it’s been sent to their phone. I’ve chalked this up to a different way of navigating–more landmark-based, perhaps? 
  2. I readily admit that this is in large part because I’m an ex-pat–one barrier has been that when you hail a ride on Ola, they call you to confirm, and I’ve ended up with several cases in which the driver and I have had trouble communicating with each other. Which in turn has ended up with several cancelled rides. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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