Text & voice messaging app Hike has inked its first telco deal with India's largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel to offer free access to the service for three months. While the deal period or the terms of the partnership were not disclosed, Hike informed that this offer is available for all new and existing Airtel prepaid customers who will be able to use Hike without any data charges. For new users, the offer will be valid for 3 calendar months from the date of the app activation while for existing users, the offer has kicked in from September 1, 2013 for the next three months. While this partnership is quite significant for Hike since it might provide them with an edge over its competitors in the intensely competitive instant messaging space, the Airtel partnership isn't quite a surprise, since it was built by Bharti Softbank, a Bharti Enterprises group company. In fact, we are a bit surprised that it took so long for Hike to sign this partnership. We are also a bit curious to see if Hike will be able to replicate the deal with other telcos, since we believe Hike's competitor Whatsapp, which probably is the largest mobile Internet based messaging app and has a tie-up with Reliance Communications, will also be looking to ink similar deals with other telcos. Other players in the space include Tencent’s WeChat, Japan-based LINE, One97's Plustxt, Micromax’s Hookup, and Imsy among others. Redesigned Android App: Coinciding with this launch, Hike has also released an updated version of its Android app, bringing along Hindi input and…
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