Why Bharti’s ‘hike’, a new app for instant messaging, is something to watch

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By Staff /  09 Nov 2012 , 12:35

Get ready for a new instant messaging app, and this one is made in India. The app called hike, which will be available from 14 November for iPhone, Android, Windows 7 is being launched by Bharti SoftBank Holdings (BSB). The Symbian and BlackBerry versions of the apps will be out later.

According to a Times of India report, this project is the brain child of Kavin Bharti Mittal, one of the twin sons of billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal. The launch comes six months after BSB bought 49 percent stake in a Gurgaon based mobile start-up Y2CF Digital.

The report quotes Kavin as saying “In the last couple of years, instant messaging has taken over SMS in a big way as operators see revenues decline or remain largely stagnant. Currently, there are five-six different services and no one app ties everyone together. hike is an attempt to make that happen.”

As far as monetisation is concerned Kavin has plans for that as well. According to this Business Line report, he says, “We want to first reach 10 million users as early as possible. There are four or five ways to monetise this platform but that comes later.” Tie-ups with Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are a possibility, adds the report.

A screengrab of the hike app from the website.

The app which was due to be launched today, is now going to be launched on the 14 November. According to thisblogpost, on the hike site a server issue delayed the launch. The latest post reads:

We’ve been blown away with the response we’ve gotten with hike. As a result, we’re taking the weekend to ensure that we can handle all the load. hike will be live globally on Wed, 14th Nov.

So what exactly does hike do? The cool thing is that with hike you can message friends who have not installed the app. The app is integrating the ability to SMS someone’s phone with the power of instant messaging. Of course with instant messaging the catch was that the other user should also have the app but hike overcomes this.

While hike to hike is free globally, for friends who don’t have the app, you can send a hike SMS. The app is giving 100 hike SMS’s free every month if you message friends who don’t have the app. The app also allows users to share photos and videos with their friends.

Your friends can reply via a regular SMS and the message will come back right into your hike app. And for every friend you invite to hike you get another 50 free SMS’s per month.

What will hike be competing with? WhatsApp is a given but again remember WhatsApp only works if your friends have the app and of course Internet access. Of course, BBM is another major competitor but again that’s restricted from BB to BB.

Perhaps the biggest competitor will be Google which recently launched its free messaging service via Gmail in India.Gmail’s free messaging is however only available from desktops and PC’s and users get only 50 free SMS, but there’s no doubt that as Android grows in the Indian market, Google will expand its free messaging service in India.

Clearly, hike has its task cut out.To know more about the app clickhere.


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