Software firm Microsoft and Ola, a ride-hailing company based in India have announced a partnership which will see the two develop a connected-car platform jointly. The partnership will also see Ola use Microsoft’s cloud-computing service, Azure, to power its in-car entertainment service. Sources also indicate that Microsoft is involved in discussions aimed at making an investment in the Indian ride-hailing company.
According to Ola the upcoming connected-vehicle software platform for internet-linked vehicles will possess features aimed at aiding navigation or sending alerts when there are maintenance works requiring to be undertaken.
“…we’re focused on providing more intelligent, connected and productive experiences to our customers. The combination of Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our AI platform with Ola Play will deliver new customer experiences and business opportunities…,” said the chief executive officer of Microsoft, Satya Nadella.
Users of Ola Play will also have access to productivity tools that include Skype and Office 365 while travelling in Ola cabs. Voice-assisted controls that have been developed using the bot framework and cognitive services of Microsoft will also be available to Ola customers. Sources also indicate that Ola is planning to ditch Amazon Web Services as its cloud platform provider completely and move to Azure in the course of the next couple of quarters.
The taxi market in India is worth around $12 billion and Ola has previously indicated its intention to invest in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Last month Ola was able to raise approximately $1.1 billion from investors who include Japan’s SoftBank Group and China’s Tencent Holdings. The ride-hailing firm has also indicated that it is talking to other investors with a view to raising an additional $1 billion.
Xbox One X
Microsoft’s partnership with Ola comes in the wake of the largest software maker in the world launching its Xbox One X gaming console which has been considered more powerful compared to offerings from competitors as well as to the console’s predecessor. According to the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, the focus of Microsoft’s gaming unit will now turn to the development of first-party titles. This could see Microsoft acquire existing gaming studios or create new ones.
Additionally Microsoft is also considering offering game-streaming in the next couple of years. Four years ago Xbox’s game, Halo 4, was cloud-streamed in a test but concerns over quality and cost prevented Microsoft’s gaming unit from rolling out the service. But now with Azure having expanded massively, game-streaming has become viable.