Bengaluru: Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) has launched a lightweight mobile website, or a progressive web app, to help the ride-hailing service penetrate deeper into smaller towns and cities and target consumers with low-end smartphones, the company said on Thursday.

“The launch of PWA (progressive web app) technology represents another milestone in Ola’s commitment to building innovative technology that is made for India. As the first ride-hailing app in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region that is using PWA technology, this represents an important development that will enable us to reach an ever greater number of customers and driver partners in rural India. We have always said addressing market needs is a key priority and this launch takes us one step further in our commitment to providing mobility for a billion Indians," Ankit Bhati, co-founder and chief technology officer at Ola, said in a statement.

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PWAs offer consumers an experience similar to native apps, but consume a fraction of the data used by native apps.

Ola claims its PWA consumes 50KB of data on the first payload and 10KB on subsequent loads. On a 2G network, the web app has recorded an initial load time of 3.4 seconds while repeat load time is less than one second, the firm says.

The progressive web app is not only expected to help Ola reach out to consumers with low-end smartphones with inadequate storage or slow mobile Internet connection, but also outstation travellers moving through patchy network zones, among others, the company said.

In October, Ola had launched an offline booking feature that allowed customers to book a cab even without a mobile Internet connection, through text messages.

Ola launched the progressive web app at Google’s I/O Developers’ conference in San Francisco. Flipkart Ltd and MakeMyTrip are among the few other homegrown consumer Internet start-ups to have launched similar web apps.

“At Google, we are deeply committed to making the mobile web better for everyone. Our PWA journey began a few years ago and we are delighted to see the traction this technology has had, especially in mobile-first countries like India. It’s exciting to see Ola create PWA, which will ensure their users have an engaging experience from the very first moment," Rahul Roychowdhury, vice-president, product management at Chrome, Google, said in a statement. The development comes at a time when Ola seems to be losing ground to Uber Technologies Inc, at least in the top seven cities.

Uber inched ahead of Ola in March on the basis of app downloads in the seven biggest cities, according to a report by research firm KalaGato Pte Ltd.

Uber accounted for 47.3% of all cab- hailing apps installed, higher than the 43.7% for Ola, at the end of March, according to data from KalaGato.

To be sure, Ola operates in 110 Indian cities as against Uber’s 29. Both companies generate more than 80% of their business from the top 10 cities.

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