New York/Bengaluru: Indian ride-services start-up Ola unveiled on Tuesday a new car entertainment platform that allows passengers to listen to the music of their choice, as it seeks to woo riders with gizmos in a bid to out-manoeuvre global giant Uber in a fast-growing market.
Ola Play, as the company has named the new feature, is aimed at attracting mostly business travellers that use Ola Prime, its line of mid-sized sedans.
Ola is fighting a pitched battle to try and retain market share in the country, where its much better capitalized rival Uber is making a major push and gaining ground.
The company faces a mounting threat from Uber since Uber sold its China operations to Didi Chuxing in August, extracting itself from a costly competition and freeing up funds for it to focus on India, its second largest market outside the United States.
Ola, backed by Japan`s SoftBank Group and China`s Didi Chuxing among others, is valued at more than $5 billion after raising $1.3 billion in funding. It is looking to raise another $1 billion this year, according to a source close to the company.
In an interview with Reuters, Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal declined to comment on Ola`s fundraising efforts, but said he saw room for multiple players in the Indian market.
"There is space for different kinds of players," Aggarwal said. "I don`t feel that the market`s capping out anytime soon."
Ola said its new Play offering will allow riders, via their smartphones, to play songs from Apple Music, Sony Liv, or other platforms. Third-party developers will also be able to develop apps for Ola Play. Entertainment, shopping and tourism apps will be among the first to be featured.