The free Indian messaging app, Hike which is less than a year old is all set to make its space in the already crowded space of mobile messaging apps. The app is backed by Bharti Soft Bank, a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Japanese operator SoftBank, which also serves as Hike’s parent company. Second in number after WhatsApp in India, it has announced a set of new features that might spike its user base. According to The Next Web, Hike has decided to expand its international footprint and has announced European language support. Additionally the app has also launched features like Push-to-talk, free sticker packs and Last Seen status.
News features at Hike
The app that has more than five million users has extended its support to four additional European languages – Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese. Hike initially had started off by supporting German language and seeing traction in user base, the app has decided to increase its base in Europe. In addition to this, the app plans to add four to five more languages every month, expressed Kavin Bharti Mittal, Head of Product and Strategy Bharti SoftBank while talking to TNW. Further he said that the global push is to help the app achieve the 10 million download mark.
Besides this Hike has added some exciting features such as set of new Stickers, Walkie-Talkie and Last Seen status feature. Stickers have been one of the features that have shown great acceptance in the Asian apps. Hike has also introduced a set of new expressive and fun stickers which include a pack full of Expressions, a predicted Bollywood pack, etc.
Apart from being fun for users, Stickers has also proved to be a new source of revenue generation. Japanese messaging app LINE proved it while revealing its Q1, 2013 earnings. The app in this quarter made $58 million in total, out of which $17 million were made only from stickers. Interestingly, LINE has also extended its support to European languages such as German, Italian and Portuguese recently. Though Kavin has no intentions to make money out of Stickers right now, even if they plan to do so that would take some time to happen.
Walkie-Talkie or Push-to-talk is another feature that allows you to make voice based messages when you can’t type. Though the new feature is easy and useful to users, it isn’t unique and has been initially implemented by Chinese messaging app WeChat from Tencent.
Besides this the app has incorporated the “Last Seen” feature in order to respect the privacy of the users. A much requested feature by users now allows them to choose the set of friends who can see the last using app status.
Competing with WhatsApp and WeChat India
Hike, the second most popular app after WhatsApp in India is slowly making space in the crowded market which is presently dominated by Asian apps. While it is updating new features it has been partnering with device providers too. It recently tied up with Nokia to preload the app on its selected devices. Along with this Hike is also working on its marketing bit and trying to reach out to the youth. Recently we had shared how Hike was providing free auto rides to the Delhi university students during the peak hours of their college form submission.
Even though Kavin might say that they are working on building a quality application and are not competing with WhatsApp, the market will still consider it. In recent times we haven’t heard about any India based initiative from WhatsApp but on the other hand the Chinese app WeChat has been focusing on local features and speeding the marketing initiatives.
Nevertheless, Hike, which boasts of having an active user base of 50 percent and currently processing close to a billion messages per month, has exciting times ahead.