Kavin Bharti Mittal, Hike Founder & CEO, Introducing Total, built by Hike - a refined version of Android to bring the next billion people onto data. (Source: Official Twitter Handle of Hike @hikeapp)

Hike Goes Old-School To Tap Into The Next Billion Internet Users

Whatsapp-rival Hike Messenger is targeting the “next billion” internet users in India with a brand new operating system that lets users message, make payments and access information without an active data connection.

Hike launched the 'Total' OS to “streamline smartphone internet experience” for those coming online for the first time, founder and chief executive Kavin Bharti Mittal told BloombergQuint. Total, a variation of the Android OS, will use USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) codes for services like messaging, news and payments without the need of cellular data. It features an older code-based communication technology along with the more popular third or fourth generation cellular internet.

An example of USSD would be the code (like *121#) that you input on your phone to check your mobile balance. “We have taken that technology and made it better and brought a smartphone experience to that technology,” Mittal said. He added that more than 300 million people still use USSD codes every month.

The SoftBank- and Tencent-backed firm is betting on the near 736 million Indians who still do not have access to the internet by offering cheaper ways of coming online.

Our goal is very simple is to how do we bring a billion people online. There are large people in market, over billion people who are yet to come online and use data on a daily basis.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder & CEO, Hike

The Total OS will be a separate product from the Hike Messenger which largely targeted the younger generation in India, Mittal said. Hike has also partnered with Intex and Karbonn to manufacture smartphones with the Total OS, costing as low as Rs 3,000, Mittal added.