Five million smartphone users in India have downloaded the Hike mobile messaging app in just four months, according to developer Bharti Softbank (BSB).
In a statement released Sunday, the company announced the five million download milestone for the free app which was first released in December 2012
. Hike is similar to other popular mobile messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Apple's iMessage, which transmit instant messages via the Internet and eliminate the need to pay for the messages.
The differentiator for Hike, though, is the ability to send messages even to people who do not have the Hike app on their handsets. Subscribers get 100 free messages each month to send to contacts without the app, and they in turn can reply via SMS at local rates. This service is limited to India-based phone numbers currently however, the company stated.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, head of product and strategy at BSB, said in the statement: "Free Hike SMS is proving to be extremely popular in a country like India where not everyone in a group of friends has access to a data-enabled smartphone."
BSB also announced the release of the latest version of the app, Hike 2.0, which incorporates social networking features such as status updates and sharing information with the user's circle of friends.
The mobile messaging app is currently available on Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Phone and Nokia's Series 40 platforms
. It will be extended to BlackBerry and Nokia Series 60 devices "shortly", the company noted.