Apple has recently signed a deal with Indian ride-sharing service Ola that will see Apple Music become available in some of the service’s cars The Los Angeles Times first reported on the partnership, explaining that Apple Music will come to some cars as part of a platform known as “Ola Play.”
Ola, for those unfamiliar, is India’s largest ride-hailing company, similar to that of Uber and Lyft. The service’s partnership with Apple is similar to Uber’s 2014 partnership with Spotify, which allows riders to control the music played in their Uber via the Spotify app on their phone.
The Ola Play platform is slightly different from Uber’s, however. Essentially, when a rider books an Ola car, they will be able to control air conditioning and music from an in-car tablet, while they’ll also be able to read ebooks and watch videos. In this case, the music will be streamed from Apple Music.
“Cars were initially built for the driver,” Ola Chief Executive Bhavish Agarwal said during a news conference reported on by India media outlet YourStory. “But with ride-sharing, the control needs to be there for the passenger, and Ola Play works along that.”
At this point, it’s unclear as to the extent of Apple’s partnership with Ola. It could very well be that Apple is simply offering a discounted rate of Apple Music subscriptions for Ola cars, or there could be much more to it.
Notably, this is the second ride-hailing company Apple has formally partnered with. Earlier this year, the company invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing and took a spot on the service’s board of directors. Not much has publicly come of that partnership as of now, though.
At the time of that investment, Tim Cook explained that one reason for the partnership was to give Apple a way to learn more about the Chinese market as a whole. As Apple works to establish retail locations in India and perhaps manufacture products there as well, its partnership with Ola could very well be for similar reasons.
Apple’s own car initiates have been somewhat unclear as of late, with some reports even suggesting that Apple has abandon plans for an actual car altogether. Nevertheless, its recent partnership with Ola suggests that Apple has other ways planned for entering the car industry.
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