Hike Messenger is an Indian-based cross-platform instant messaging service for smartphones founded by Kavin Mittal and launched on December 12, 2012. On Tuesday, the service reached a valuation of $1.4 billion after raising $175 million in a new round led by Chinese Tencent Holdings and Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group.
So far, Hike Messenger has managed to raise $250 million. Indeed a milestone worth celebrating but how does the service align alongside the market’s leader-WhatsApp. Hike is a household name in India while WhatsApp is equally a popular app in the vast South Asian country.
As at January 2016, four years after its launch, Hike Messenger reached 100 million users milestone. WhatsApp, on the other side, has been a global sensation since its launch in 2009 with over a billion people using the chat client monthly.
Ninety percent of Hike Messenger users are Indians whereas WhatsApp is spread globally. The former has been tailored to meet local demands and sensibilities while the latter offers general global chat service. In the course of meeting users’ needs, Hike pioneered data encryption privacy protocol which other competitors have embraced. Hike users can hide both the time stamp ‘last-viewed’ and status updates, as well as hide individual and group chats.
As explained by founder and CEO Kavin Mittal, Hike was made to meet the needs of Indian’s young internet generation who are in dire need for privacy, because in India a single phone is normally shared between members of the family. Finally, the app is available in nine languages and provides stickers in 40 languages to take care of the Indian market which has so many languages.
According to Kavin, the competition between Hike Messenger and WhatsApp is a non-zero-sum game, WhatsApp must not lose for Hike to win. He disagrees with current data that now put Hike and WhatsApp side by side. As said by the CEO people use WhatsApp and Hike for different purposes, that is, there are things you cannot do on WhatsApp that you can do on Hike. He justified his point by citing the number of people using both Hike and WhatsApp at the same time which is more than those using Hike alone.
40 billion messages are shared across Hike per month with users spending 120 minutes per week on the communication app which is far much behind 64 billion messages across WhatsApp per day with 600 million photos according to statistica.com.
In terms of the number of exchanges across the apps, WhatsApp totally floors Hike Messenger. However, Hike’s strength comes in terms of engagement per user which places it at second place after the market’s leader.
As per a study by Jana in December 2015, dubbed ‘India: A growth opportunity for app developers’, 97 percent of Indians with smartphones use a messaging app every day with WhatsApp running on 96 percent of these phones. Besides, WhatsApp leads all other apps in India, including Hike, in the number daily active users. The research also revealed that devices with WhatsApp were 2.3 times more than those with Hike Messenger and1.7 times more devices than Facebook Messenger.
Apparently, WhatsApp is still the better app and is more popular than Hike in the country.