Hike messenger, India’s homegrown Over-the-Top (OTT) chat application, last week introduced ‘Hike Calls’, a feature that the company said will allow Hike users to call each other for free, over 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi and across the globe in over 200 countries. The introduction of Hike Calls comes within a month of the company's acquisition of Zip Phone, a provider of OTT voice app.
The chat application, said Hike, has been optimized to consume very little data, giving its users more calling minutes per MB of data. Given that the majority of mobile-internet users in India are still experimenting with data and are not on a high-bandwidth connection, this optimization becomes critical for the Indian market, said Hike.
The chat application comes with localized features such as Hike Offline that lets users message their friends even when they’re offline; Hidden Mode that allows users to hide their private chats with a password, and; Regional Stickers which helps users express more in their own language. The Hike Calls feature is currently available in beta on Android devices, while users on iOS and Windows can look forward to use the app when it is released, which the company says will be sometime by the end of this quarter.
Launched in December 2012, hike which has since raised $86M from Tiger Global and BSB, claims to have over 35M users as at August, 2014. The OTT app also boasts of a fairly young user base with over 90% of its users being under the age of 25 and residing in India.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO, Hike Messenger
While building free hike calls, we kept two things in mind. Firstly, India is a very cost sensitive market and as a result we’ve ensured that our service is extremely efficient on data. It means our users can pack in more minutes per MB when calling on hike. Secondly, we’ve made hike’s free calling service available globally in over 200+ countries. Hikers from India can now speak with their loved ones in India and across the world for free.