India, for all purposes, is a highly coveted market. With its 1.25 billion population and tremendous growth in Internet adoption, it is a treasure trove for all forms of social media. In particular however, an area that has seen immense heat of late is Instant Messaging.
With its simplicity and ease of use, owing to minimal data consumption, Instant Messaging is a savior of sorts in emerging markets such as India, where Internet connections still provide for just mediocre speeds outside big cities. Such concerns go to such an extent for IM to even act as a substitute for other social media platforms like Facebook, which was reflected in Facebook’s very own high profile acquisition of WhatsApp earlier this year.
In this grapple for your affection, WhatsApp, having the advantage of being the first major independent player in the market, has been growing and controlling the IM scene in India for quite a while. Over two years ago however, India has had its very own homegrown player – Hike Messenger, taking the stage.
India’s Very Own
Launched in December 2012, Hike was essentially India’s response to WhatsApp; which in its under two years of existence, managed to prove itself to be quite the competition to what is otherwise the unanimous choice in the industry – WhatsApp.
That being said, over its brief lifespan, Hike has adapted and evolved to provide for an experience not identical to its rival. While WhatsApp followed the simplistic and no-nonsense approach of serving solely as an Instant Messaging service, Hike has taken things a bit further.
Among its differentiating factors are some thoughtful additions, such as – an offline mode, which allows the sending of SMS (carrier text messages) for free within a limit; the ability to send documents and media file transfers of 100 MB, compared to WhatsApp’s paltry 16 MB; and also a Hidden Mode, which allows for password-protected conversations. Apart from these, some quirky features that add to its appeal are an expansive set of Stickers, a much larger range of Emoticons to choose from and even customized themes for each conversation.
Though this is a lot in itself, Hike did not stop here in its campaign for your confidence. A few months ago, Hike adopted an aggressive TV advertisement campaign. Though the tastefulness of their commercials is debatable, it seems to have done well for them, resulting in almost doubling their user base since then.
Hike’s Current Standing And Future
Currently at a strength of 35 million users, as opposed to WhatsApp’s 60 million (as per Statista), Hike’s growth trajectory could see its adoption possibly matching or even surpassing that of Whatsapp’s before the end of this year, as long as they keep up with this pace.
The fact that WhatsApp is a much more recognized brand at a global scale, is one of the reasons why Hike’s job might not be as easy as it seems. Plus, with the might of Facebook at its back, WhatsApp is far from one to roll over in anyone’s wake.
In addition to WhatsApp, big Asian players such as WeChat and Line have been making inroads into the country, particularly WeChat, which too spearheaded a strong campaign in India not too long ago and has a strong backing from its parent company, Tencent.
As we can see, Hike has got a tough road ahead of itself, but if it manages to keep up with the progress it has made so far, it might just be on its way to taking control of India’s Instant Messaging market, and the whole host of goodies that come packed with that.