If you’re someone who in the 13-25 age group, it’s likely you have heard about Snapchat. The app is arguably the most popular among younger audience thanks to its filters or Lenses as Snapchat calls them. Now, Hike is bringing the same to its platform.
Hike today rolled out Snapchat-like filters for its camera app as well as Stories feature by the same name. However, the difference is Stories on Hike last for 48 hours, while on Snapchat they disappear after 24 hours. Plus the filters have a more Indian touch.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder & CEO of Hike Messenger, does not deny the company has taken inspiration from Snapchat, but emphasises the content they’re serving to Indian audience is more local. “Every 5-10 years, someone builds a new social group and the last one was Facebook-style News Feed that people can share and like. Today, most of the commerce apps have that kind of News Feed. In fact a lot of e-commerce websites have NewsFeed as well.”
He adds, “In the new age, Snapchat has pioneered the social group with its filters, Stories and several other features. We believe what works for us is to take some of the ideas that have done well and localise it for the Indian audience.”
Hike has launched a couple of filters including ones that turn your face into PM Narendra Modi or Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh. The filters work for front as well as rear camera and recognise only faces for now. Mittal assures camera filters for real world settings in the rear camera are coming soon. Filters for videos will launch in December.
However, he refuses to share monthly active users (MAUs) for Hike. “We believe not revealing MAUs for Hike gives us a competitive advantage,” he said. On whether he considers WhatsApp (160 million MAUs in India alone) as one of Hike’s competitors, he explained, “We don’t compete with WhatsApp. If you look at our data, most people use WhatsApp and Hike together but for different purposes.”
“WhatsApp is used by everybody be it friends, drivers or colleagues. Hike, on the other hand, is being used to communicate with your closed group of friends. And you fundamentally do very very different things on WhatsApp and Hike. We mainly consider Messenger, Line and WeChat (earlier) and somewhat Snapchat now as our competitors,” says Hike’s CEO.
Interestingly, Mittal sees Google Allo not as a competitor, but a partner that the company can work with in future. He hopes to integrate Google’s machine learning technology in Hike. “We don’t look at Google as a competition, but rather as a partner. They’re doing so many great things in machine learning and I believe we can partner with them to use those features,” he said.
“Allo is simply a representation of what Google can do, and that’s voice assistant. But we’re playing a very different game, and don’t worry about Allo so much in terms of competition. In 2016, bots are an obvious idea, we’ll get there eventually,” added Mittal.
Stories on Hike appear in a tab called ‘My Story’, that can be accessed simply by swiping right. There’s also an in-built camera app that allows users to edit pictures by adding text, emojis etc. The Stories on hike last for 48 hours and Mittal thinks this is a great modification for Indian audiences.
“The 48-hour time window is very important for a country like India where Internet is not always consistent. Many people don’t check Internet regularly,” he points out. “We’re going to have a huge focus on the camera in the coming year. It is the most natural way to interact. You’ll see us invest heavily in camera,” he concluded.