Indian messaging app Hike today announced its acquisition of Zip Phone. The latter is a US-based voice calling app maker, which lets users make calls over Wi-Fi. Neither of the companies has revealed the financial details of the acquisition.
Zip Phone is a Y-Combinator — an American-based seed accelerator that funds early stage startups — backed company founded last year. The app, which is available on Android as well as iOS, lets users place calls over Wi-Fi to help them save minutes. On Android the app works in the background, and if it detects a Wi-Fi connection and also the fact that the other person has the app installed, it takes over the standard Android dialer. On iOS however, users will need to open the app to make free calls. The app is currently only available in the US.
This is the first acquisition for Hike Messenger, which at last count boasts more than 35 million registered users
While it is not surprising for a messaging app to plan on launching a free voice calling feature — WhatsApp is close to doing the same — it comes at a time when there is a lot of discussion over net neutrality in India.
RELATED: F*ck you, Airtel
Last month, Airtel decided to charge separately for placing calls using VoIP services including Skype, and Viber among others. Not surprisingly, Airtel’s move came under heavy criticism from all quarters as it is against the very essence of net neutrality. Since then however, the operator withdrew the controversial data plan, as it waits for TRAI to issue a consultation paper relating to services offered by OTT (Over The Top) players like IM and VoIP apps.
Interestingly, Hike is a Bharti SoftBank funded company.