Hike Acquires Zip Phone. Free Voice Calling On Cards
Popular Indian mobile Instant Messenger Hike is prepping itself to start offering free Voice Calling – To facilitate this, they seem to have acquired US based free VOIP calling app – Zip Phone. While there has been no official announcement, NextBigWhat has reported about this acquisition.
Zip Phone was founded by Anuj Jain last year and was part of Y Combinator’s Summer batch.
According to the Zip Phone website, the app supports secure calling and all the conversations are encrypted by default, removing any chances of call eavesdropping. The interesting thing is that Zip Phone requires very low bandwidth to make calls – as low as 0.5 KB/s. At such low requirement, the calls can be made easily even on a 2G network.
However, Zip Phone needs to be installed on the both the caller and receiver’s end. In recent times there have been few apps that have started offering free VOIP international calling directly to phone numbers (which is strictly not legal in India atleast). Recently, Skype also introduced free phone calls to landlines and mobiles in US/Canada for Indian users.
While VOIP calls is not legal in India, that is the future. Telecom Operators across the world are dreading this – Recently, Airtel had announced VOIP calling plans (that were quickly retracted after backlash) that went against the principles of net-neutrality.
For Hike, it was not an option whether to introduce Voice calling feature or not – they had to do it. given all their competitors including Viber and Line already have it. There have been strong indications in recent times that WhatsApp too will soon be launching voice calling feature.
Rather than building the feature ground-up, Hike messenger did the right thing by acquiring the technology that is already working and tested. According to Kavin Mittal, Founder of Hike, “Zip Phone’s technology will allow us to bring free voice calling to the market much faster. Incidentally, this is one of the top requested features from our users as well. ”
Future of Voice Calling
Making Voice calls on internet is no more a rarity – it is the reality. Telecom Operators world over are obviously going to go at great lengths to stop VOIP calls from going mainstream, however, everyone understands that eventually that IS the future.
Whatsapp recently crossed 700 million monthly active users, once they introduce voice calling on their app, it may soon become a norm. If one can make calls for next to free, why would anyone want to make calls that will cost money.
Till now, there were many issues that were stopping rise of VOIP calls, including always-on, high speed and stable mobile internet. But now, those are no more an issue. With every second person carrying a Smartphone now, making VOIP calls is very easy with so many apps already supporting it.
Free Calls on the internet are here to stay, majority of smartphone users do it now and everyone will adopt it in a year or two.
It’s not the matter of if, but when!