Turkcell has announced that it has added voice and video calls to its BiP mobile messaging apps.
The Turkish carrier claims that its app has already been downloaded over 3.3 million times for both Android and iOS.
While BiP is aimed mostly at Turkcell subscribers, it’s also available to people outside its network in 166 countries. BiP also recently launched in Turkish in Germany and Cyprus, where both countries have significant Turkish minorities. Turkcell is also planning to expand into Ukraine and Belarus in their local languages.
With BiP, Turkcell seems to have decided that rather that the best way to beat OTT apps like WhatsApp and Skype is to join them and become and OTT service themselves.
Turkcell still hasn’t forgotten that it’s in the business of selling phone service. The carrier has added 1 gigabyte of data to Turkcell subscribers to sweeten the deal.
While the app is pretty popular, it’s still not as well-known as the other communications app such as Skype. Skype already had voice and video calling prior to Turkcell’s addition to these features in BiP. The appeal might be more limited to people who have friends and family in Turkey and want to keep in touch without long distance fees.
Since BiP works over the Internet, the company can attract more international users, but there would have to be a real critical mass of users to attract people away from existing apps that do the same things BiP has just added. Turkcell’s best bet is to expanding into markets where existing apps are less entrenched.
BiP is also playing catch-up in other features. The latest version lets messages disappear the way they do in Snapchat.
Turkcell has also partnered with artist Erdil Yasaroglu to create stickers that users can share with each other over BiP.
Users both in Turkey and abroad might be wary of Turkcell’s home country’s penchant for censoring the Internet as a consequence of the political unrest Turkey has undergone over the past few years. Major social media sites like YouTube and Facebook.