The battle of free messaging apps over internet has reached to mobile operators too. In recent time India becomes a focus point for the messaging apps and VoIP apps like WhatsApp, Skype, WeChat, Nimbuzz or Hike.
In the latest development instant messaging app – Hike, developed by Bharti SoftBank is in talks with incumbent players – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to come up with special bundle packs for Hike app.
Hike, which was launched in December 2012 has more than 5 million users and handles over 1 billion mesages per month. Hike which has nearly 60% Indian userbase is now looking for monetization by partnering with telcos and OEMs including Nokia. New features are added continuously to stay ahead of the race, as told by Kavin Bharti Mittal, Head of Product and Strategy at Bharti SoftBank.
Last month China-based Tencent has starting wide promotion of its instant messaging and calling app WeChat. They roped in country’s youthstars like Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan to promote this app in the country. WeChat targets WhatsApp and offer more than just IM, it offers calling and video calling facilities to users. WeChat is free, while WhatsApp charges Rs 55 per year after first year usage is free.
Reliance Communications has already launched some packs which offer unlimited WhatsApp or Facebook usage for a month at just Rs 16. WhatsApp and Facebook has tied up with handset makers to bring handsets with dedicated WhatsApp or Facebook button.
Nimbuzz is another popular app which is looking for a better pie of the market. It started talks with Reliance Jio, country’s only 4G operator with pan India spectrum. Though there is still no confirmed news, Nimbuzz is hopeful to crack a deal.
Skype is popular in India, mostly because of its video calling feature. Viber, LINE etc are not popular in the country. OEMs like Micromax has its own hookup app and Samsung has its ChatON which are long way to go.
It is interesting that Google, the company behind Android is not coming up with anything like with dedicated G+ button, probably because it is not that popular and does not have so much active users. Google recently replaced its old GTalk app from Android with Hangouts with several cool features. There was news that Google was in talks to acquire WhatsApp, however deal did not happen.