Hike Shows Why Super Apps Don’t Work In India The Way They Do In China

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In China, WeChat—a mash-up of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Paypal, Twitter, Uber, Kindle, and more—has become an indispensable part of everyday life for people. The super app provides a long list of services from booking cabs to ordering food delivery to playing games to transferring money, keeping users locked in its ecosystem.

Experts think the decision is apt. “India is still in the formative stages when it comes to getting users acquainted to being app-dependent,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO at Greyhound Research. “Super apps are for more evolved users who have already gone through the learning curve. Hence they do way better in Japan and China, where penetration of smartphones and mobile internet is way better.” In fact, WeChat itself tanked in India.

Interestingly, Tencent backs WeChat. Clearly, Hike took a page from Tencent in its early days, experts say. “But in markets like India, where bandwidth (mobile) isn’t very reliable, users just don’t have enough bandwidth to even run a single app sometimes,” said Gogia.

Other big tech firms have recognised this weakness and released pared down versions of their offerings, be it Facebook Lite or Twitter Lite or LinkedIn Lite. Hike’s attempt to ease the data load is to split the app from one to many.

“Be it commerce, be it payments, be it content or be it messaging, in all of these four categories where Hike is likely to play, the category leaders and category followers have already been very well established,” said Greyhound’s Gogia. “So, it’s a hard trajectory that they are looking to go at. And scaling up and being successful in each of these categories is going to be really backbreaking.”



Sanchit Vir Gogia: Sanchit is the Chief Analyst, Founder & CEO of Greyhound Research, a Global, Award-Winning, Technology & Innovation Research & Advisory firm. To read more about him, click here.

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