First, the details. Earlier this week, on Wednesday, Hike launched a product called ‘Total, built by Hike’. Total is a version of the Android operating system, which the company claims to have “redefined for the next billion users”. In company speak, the app essentially would allow first-time smartphone users to “use the internet without data”. Hike has partnered with three telecom companies (Airtel, Aircel and BSNL) and two of the major low-end smartphone manufacturers (Karbonn and Intex) for Total’s rollout.
Hike goes Total retrograde
India’s messenger unicorn, Hike, valued at more than $1 billion, is going back to its roots. Back to telecom, piggybacking on Airtel, in search of new users
Hike's Total app would essentially would allow first-time smartphone users to “use the internet without data”
Total uses one of telecom’s oldest communications protocols, the USSD, with funky smartphone-based user interface on top of it
For Hike, USSD is essentially a means to an end. The idea is to get people to eventually use data, and more importantly, pay for it
The challenge though is that Hike might be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t need solving