Does Hike stand a chance against WhatsApp?When people realize that what we are building is not just messaging, the perspectives change. For us to win, WhatsApp need not lose. People are using different apps for different use cases. What we offer is the whole world of internet, with news, sports and chat, on a single app. On he desktop, people spend 90% of the time on a browser On mobile phones, an app is similar to a tab. We want Hike o become a browser-like des ination. The current app mo del is broken and will become obsolete. Most of the time spent on mobile devices wo uld be restricted to four or five apps. People are social beings and messaging apps would be he most used apps. And they would like to see news, crick et alerts all coming on the chat platform.With 10 crore users, you could start thinking about monetization. Or are consumers unwilling to pay for apps and internet services?We are not focusing on ma king money for now. Monetization is the easy part and lot of models have proved successful globally, whether it is WeChat or Line. Utility services and brands interacting with consumers are avenues to make money. It is about how tastefully you can do it, without spamming the consumer. We also have a virtual economy of stickers, games etc. But you need a critical mass of people with their lives deeply entrenched in the internet. Only then can you sell online, and the 10 crore users we have is still small compared to the overall market -there are 110 crore sim cards in use.
A couple of years ago Hike was focusing on offline features. With explosive smartphone adoption now, do those features have any relevance?Do you know that data is expensive in this country! While in China, you need to work 3.5 hours to afford 1 GB of data, in India, you need to work for 12.5 hours. So even when one of the parties does not have data, Hike works with Hike Direct feature, which uses a wifi hotspot to transmit data. People are transferring 4.1 terabytes of data on Hike Direct. That is how you bring more people online.So what is Hike, an app for all apps?Windows was the operating system (OS) for desktops, while Netscape became the OS for the internet. In the mobile world, Android is the OS for the phone, while messaging will become the OS for the internet.So you are adding more features to Hike?We had actually built a thousand things but users will only see ten, and use even fewer. Our job is to make the features better, so that people don’t just use them, but love them. The way people in China use WeChat is mind-boggling. However there are complications in replicating the same model in India -how do you do payments, how do you deliver products, etc.