After Whatsapp added the video calling feature in its beta version, Hike today added the video calling feature as well. Ever since Hike was launched it has always been competing head to head to with WhatsApp, easily the most used chat messenger as of now. Also, Hike Messenger is built and developed in India a badge it proudly wears in the PlayStore app description. There is just one problem with that assumption though. For all its Unicorn status, funding, and claims of a high user base and growing, Hike has seemed strangely invisible, even as WhatsApp continues to make deeper inroads into usage and numbers, very visibly.
Origins aside, both the apps offer pretty much the same functionality yet Whatsapp Messenger has a billion plus downloads on playstore vs the 50 million figure that comes up for Hike. A point explained away by Hike with a claim of While starting well before Hike explains the first mover advantage, ownership by Facebook will also have helped sustain this dominance.
Starting with the User Interface, Whatsapp has evolved quite a lot and most distinct changes have surely been the ability to see a Contact’s Profile directly from the Chat Menu. Further, Whatsapp has always adopted a clean and simple look which is why it didn’t take much time for users to accept it. Most importantly, WhatsApp benefits from the network effect where its early inroads ensured everyone moved to it to keep up with their peers and more.
Don’t take me wrong, Hike also comes with equally simple interface with some unique added features such as Daily Quotes, Hidden Mode etc. but people rarely use it. However, the feature which is useful at least in our opinion is the ability to send SMS to a contact who is not active on Hike. Driven precisely to get over the WhatsApp handicap, where a lot of users will simply not opt for a second service after WhatsApp. The blue accent on Hike looks extremely beautiful but at the end of the day Hike suffers from what every other chat messenger is suffering today and that is shear traction and numbers of daily users. It’s true, a lot of people use hike but there are very few people who have Hike installed on their smartphone with no Whatsapp on board. There are exceptions with the users residing in the countries where Whatsapp is not available. Also, apparently we 25+ to 40 year olds are way to old for Hike, which claims to have a strongly youth centric, college going base.
However, as far as functionality is concerned, both the apps are on par with the needs of all kinds of users. Although, Whatsapp still limits the content shared on it to 16MB only. Hike, on top of the usual smileys, offer a large variety of Stickers to make your chatting experience even more fun.
Coming to the Voice Calling feature, both the apps offer the voice calling feature but here Whatsapp leads with its clear and uninterrupted calling even with 2G networks. Although you might see weird call delays but with time it improves. On the other hand, Hike does equally well when it comes to good internet connection but suffers miserably when tested with low internet speeds.
After Hike released the video calling feature, we tested it out and results were pretty decent. Depending on your connection, the app automatically adjusts the video and voice quality which is not new. However, Hike’s Video Calling comes with ‘Live Preview’ which is similar to Google Duo’s Knock Knock feature showing a preview of a caller even before you pick up the call. As of now, the video calling feature has only been rolled out on Android platform but soon it will be released for iOS.
Whatsapp released the update only to the beta testers and although it wasn’t available to all the users we still managed to test the feature for a brief period of time and based on that testing the results were pretty good. although it struggles a little bit in the audio output even with pretty good internet connections.
Hike with its move to be more WeChat like instead of a comparison with WhatsApp, is probably going to hope that the initiatives and communication works well to change the conversation around the brand. Otherwise, this is a mystery that will attract more detractors than supporters.