Global Watch: How The Hike Messaging App Wins India

Editor’s Note: This marks the first entry of our new publishing series “Global Watch”, where we look at the emerging markets around the world and highlight stories that feature new, disruptive media and technology.

Hike is a messaging app that is gaining popularity among the young people in India. The reason? The app tailors its features to the unique reality of India’s emerging market.

For one, it prioritizes the privacy of its users. It is culturally common for young folks in India to live with their parents until marriage, and the special Hidden Mode of Hike makes it harder for nosy parents and siblings to snoop around their private messages. In addition, Hike supports sending messages between smartphones and “dumb” phones, giving it another big advantage in India, where the majority of mobile users still use phones with limited Internet capability.

With $86 million investment from telecomm companies like Bharti and SoftBank, Hike is not thinking about monetization yet. Less than two years old, Hike’s free app currently has more than 35 million users. And it still has plenty of room to grow, as the Indian market has more than 1 billion mobile subscribers and no single dominant messaging app.

Nanu: The Free-call App That Could Take Over The Emerging Markets

Nanu is a new Android app that boasts the ability to make free calls even via a slow 2G network connection, and more impressively, to non-Nanu users including landlines and mobile phone numbers. The calls are free because the app employs an ad-supported model where a short ad will play over the waiting tone before the calls are picked up. In the emerging global markets where 2G mobile network is still the norm, Nanu’s unique capacity would give it a definitive edge over its more bandwidth-demanding competitors, such as Skype and Viber. If the quality of Nanu’s Internet-based calls holds up, its price advantage over regular phonecall charges might even help it break into developed markets.