NEW DELHI: Mobile apps will soon be largely obsolete, according to the head of Hike, the Indian chat app, who argues that there are too many taking up too much space on consumers' phones.
Which is why he sees the mobile future being centred on fewer apps, specifically messaging apps such as Hike, which will contain microsites and brand channels.
"We really believe that messaging will do to mobile what browser did to the CD," Kavin Mittal told the Business Standard.
He offered the example of checking the score in a cricket match: a laptop user might search via a browser and click on several links, but "this cannot work on the phone".
The alternative for the mobile user is to download an app, "but there are hundreds of heavy apps and space is at a premium," he pointed out. "And that's why we are adding microsites to the app."
He added that Hike sees an increase in the number of messages during major sporting event, especially if India is part of that. With several major cricket tournaments coming up in the next few months – the Asia Cup starts in Bangladesh today, with the T20 World Cup and the India Premier League to follow in March and April – the app is likely to see a burst of activity from its 100m users.
Mittal has also reported "tremendous" growth for Hike Direct – a service that enables two users to swap files directly using their phones' Wi-Fi Direct technology and so avoid data costs.
"Eventually, you could think of this connecting together a whole rural village that isn't online," he suggested.
Later this year, Hike will launch brand channels based on geolocations. "If you go to a mall, Hike will see where you are and send you coupons on what you could buy and the deals on offer. The brands can then talk to you directly after your purchase," Mittal explained.
An enhanced artificial intelligence tool is planned for next year that will be able to interact with users and incorporate brand associations via suggestions and behaviour of the user on the phone.
Mittal was scornful of the approach of some of his rivals. "Line spams its users with messages from brands – it is more a marketing tool than a messaging app," he said. "We want to approach the customers tastefully."
Data sourced from Business Standard, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff