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Indian Messaging App: This messaging app of India was ahead of WhatsApp, then how did it get ruined?


If WhatsApp leaves India, then there is no Indian messaging app in sight to take its place. But there was a time when an Indian messaging app was not only competing with WhatsApp but was also ahead of it in many aspects. The name was Hike Messenger. Its foundation was laid by Kavin Bharti Mittal in the year 2012. Let us know the complete story of this app.

  At present, the tension between the government and the American social messaging app WhatsApp is at its peak regarding the privacy issue. To curb fake news, the government wants to know the origin of the message from WhatsApp, meaning which user sent the message for the first time.

But, for this, Meta-owned WhatsApp will have to break the end-to-end encryption, which keeps the messages private between the sender and the receiver. WhatsApp has clearly stated in the Supreme Court that if it is forced to break end-to-end encryption, it will have no other option but to close its business from India.

If WhatsApp leaves India, then there is no Indian messaging app in sight to take its place. But, there was a time when an Indian messaging app was not only competing with WhatsApp but was also ahead of it in many aspects. Its name was Hike Messenger. The foundation of this app was laid by Kavin Bharti Mittal in the year 2012.

Kavin is the son of Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder of the giant telecom company Bharti Airtel, so he did not face many problems on the funding front. Their messenger app was also way ahead of its time. At that time, Hike had advanced features like stickers, voice calls, payment wallets, games, cricket score updates, and news channels, which most messaging apps lacked. Especially, Hike's biggest rival WhatsApp.

The hike had advanced features like stickers, voice calls, games, cricket score updates, and news channels.

What was special about the hike?

Kavin aimed to make Hike the WeChat of India. WeChat is China's most popular messaging app. Kavin was successful in his objective to some extent. Hike became the fastest growing app just one year after its launch. At that time it was also the most downloaded app on Android and iPhone in India.

Hike had many unique features. Such as two-way chat themes, voice calling, video calling, conference calls up to 100 members, group up to 1000 people, hidden chat, news, cricket scores, regional stickers and much more. This was the reason why its popularity increased very rapidly. Investors also increased funding.

Hike's last round of funding took place in 2016 and its valuation increased to $1.4. It became the country's 10th unicorn. This means that Hike was included in the list of giants like Flipkart, Paytm, Ola and Snapdeal. In just three years its users crossed 10 crores. The company was also giving updates in a hurry.

Hike's success was also unprecedented because it was in the pre-Reliance Jio era, when data was not affordable for everyone.

Why did Hike stop?

Now the question arises that when Haik had everything, how did it get ruined. The answer to this is hidden in the question itself. Actually, Haik tried his hand at every trick, but every trick remained incomplete. Amidst all this, its USP got lost, which was its interesting stickers. It started providing features like news, audio-video calls and even payments.

At that time, people considered these things unnecessary in a messaging app and they made the app unnecessarily complicated. Also, it was just trying to appeal to the youth. It did not pay any attention to the older group.

On the other hand, Hike's main rival WhatsApp was improving its user experience by focusing only on messaging. Its interface was quite simple, so that even children and elderly people can use it easily. And after Jio's data revolution, this user segment, which was dispersed by Hike, became much larger.

By 2018, the number of daily active users of Hike had reached 90,000. Kavin later realized his mistake. They rebranded Hike Messenger as the Hike sticker chat app in April 2019 with a stickered experience. But, at that time Hike was lagging far behind in the market. At the same time, the number of monthly active users of WhatsApp had reached 40 crores.

What did Kavin give as the reason for failure?

Hike finally surrendered in January 2021 after lagging behind in the competition with western apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram etc. Hike founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal informed about the closure of his messaging app on X (then Twitter). He blamed Western companies for the failure of the hike.

Kavin said that India can never have its own messaging app, because the dominance of western companies is very strong in the country. He also said that if India wants its own messenger app, cracking down on Western companies could be an option. As has been done by promoting WeChat in China.

However, it is difficult to do work like China in a democratic country like India. But, if WhatsApp packs its bags and leaves India, then who knows, an Indian messenger app like Hike might get a chance to flourish again.

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