BY | April 27, 2013

Bharti SoftBank (BSB) is all set to invest USD 7 million (about Rs 37 crore) in messaging app Hike and Hike 2

Smart-phone market is expanding in India on a breakneck speed. With the launch of affordable handsets from local smart-phone vendors and also from the likes of HTC, Sony and Nokia, there is a sort of mad rush for affordable smartphones in the market. Now there are innumerable handsets available in Rs 10000-Rs 15000 price band and even Rs 7000- Rs 9000 price band and no one is more happy than the consumers who are having a gala time.

In India an overwhelmingly large number of people cannot really afford the very expensive top handsets from the smart-phone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry and so the affordable handsets were necessary for the market to catch up and now thanks to the availability of these smart-phones running on Android and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 operating systems, the number of people going for smart-phones is going up really fast. But smart-phones sales is merely 7 percent of total mobile phone sales in the country. Feature phones still rule the roost.

In the meantime following the thumping success of its free messaging app “Hike”, which crossed the 5 million active subscribers mark within four months of its launch, the Bharti SoftBank (BSB) is all set to invest USD 7 million (about Rs 37 crore) in the app. The company has also launched the upgraded version of the app called Hike 2.0.  The app that was launched in December 2012 is a product of Bharti Soft Bank, a joint-venture between Bharti Enterprises and SoftBank Corporation, focussing on the mobile-internet space.  According to the company the decision of investing huge amount in the app that is free for use was taken only after looking at the success rate of the app that has earned the tag of being one of the fastest growing free mobile apps globally.

In a statement issued BSB Director Mike Kayamori said: “The traction for hike has been phenomenal, especially in such a competitive market. This new round of investment is an endorsement, of the great work put in by the entire team. What’s unique about hike is its seamless integration between instant messaging and SMS. This is a very powerful feature especially in a market like India where more than 90 per cent of the 900 million strong mobile populations is on feature phones. The free messaging app Hike that competes with other similar apps including the arch rival Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Blackberry Messenger, provides faultless mixing between instant messaging and standard text messaging (SMS).

Thanks to the demand for such app and on the basis of the survey conducted by the company it was ascertained that 60 percent of the hike’s user base comes from India and the rest from Middle East and Europe. At present the app is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry and S40 platforms. Meanwhile, apart from announcing the investment plans, the company has also introduced an update called Hike 2.0, which allows the users to post updates about what they are up to or what they are thinking in real-time to their close friends only. BSB’s head of product and strategy, Kavin Bharti Mittal said: An upgrade of the app which has been announced will offer new features for users. The Hike 2.0 update features Status Updates with Moods that lets users post updates about what they are up to or what they are thinking in real-time to their close friends only. Users can create a ‘Circle of Friends’ in the app to whom the update goes out to.

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