Hike, the instant messaging (IM) app service from BSB (Bharti Softbank, a joint venture between Bharti Group and Japan’s Softbank), has acquired free voice calling app Zip phone from US based Thought Mechanics Inc for an undisclosed sum. This would also compete with Bharti Airtel own core mobile service. Hike is also competing with SMS service provided by Airtel among other cellular service providers. The venture, however, adds data service earnings to all mobile operators.
The move is expected to expand Hike’s product range in the Internet based communication space. This is the first acquisition by Hike, and is aimed at expanding its products range in the Internet based communication space. Launched by Anuj Jain, Zip Phone is a voice-calling app that can automatically detect one’s contacts, and intelligently routes the call through the Wi-Fi.
Founded by in July 2012 by Kavin Bharti, Hike is a peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging app that uses both data and SMS to deliver messages. Hike is one of the leading mobile apps based out of India with around 35 Million users. Close to 90 percent of its users are Indians aged below 25 years. One of the key features of Hike is that those who do not have Hike on their phones can still receive an Instant message as SMS. One can also respond to it but have to pay normal SMS charges for that.
Hike is competing with a slew of IM apps that include Whatsapp, which claims to have around 70 Million users in India, besides Facebook Messenger, Viber, Google Talk, and Kakao talk from South Korea, Taiwan Cubie, and LoveByte from Singapore, China WeChat, Japan Line, and Nimbuzz in India. Smartphone makers have their own apps too, such as BlackBerry Ltd Messenger, Apple Inc iMessage, and Samsung Electronics ChatOn. Last September, Hike had secured $65 Million (Rs 400 cr) in funding from a group of overseas investors led by Tiger Global Management.