Kikstarting A New Business (or Not)

12 Feb

Remember cross-platform mobile messaging service Kik?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Kik’s growth was an epic story of new product/service success, to the point that their servers were overwhelmed several times in the first few weeks (if not months) after launch.  It made so much sense, in theory, at least.  Users of Blackberry Messenger, RIM’s proprietary messaging software is much better than SMS aka text messaging; its faster, messages are displayed as conversations, and you can tell when a message has been sent/delivered/received.  It’s basically like instant messaging; you have a profile/profile pic, status message, etc.  It’s pretty good and definitely much better than text messaging.  The problem, of course, is that its proprietary and only blackberry users can take advantage of it.

Kik is basically a cross-platform version of Blackberry Messenger.  Genius, right?  I thought so and was one of the first people to download it and get my non-blackberry-carrying friends to use it, too.  I haven’t used Kik in months.  I peaked at about 20-25 contacts within just a few weeks of initially downloading it.  Similarly, I have not received a kik message from any of these contacts in months, either.

So what happened? Why’d he momentum stop?

If you look at the traffic to the website from Alexa (whether you think that’s accurate is another story) shows the peak was in November and then quickly tapered off (kinda looks like a head & shoulders pattern, eh?).  In December, RIM sued Kik, but from the looks of it, Kik’s popularity had already started waning before the suit (and really, how many average people even knew about the suit?)

So why did myself and apparently all of my other friends who’ve download Kik stop using it?  I really have no idea to tell you the truth!  It just kinda wasn’t cool, and the concept of BBM for everyone wasn’t as great in practice as it was in concept.  That, combined with the server/service outages, some privacy issues (they were very opaque about how the software added/suggested contacts)  and all the hype just fizzled out, just like that.  I still send SMS messages to my friends with Android/iPhones and I still send BBM’s to my friends with Blackberrys.  It’s pretty stupid, if you think about it, when it would make more sense for me to use Kik, but for some reason even though its better than SMS, I just feel little-to-no compulsion to use it.

I guess its because SMS messages are threaded in a conversation on my Blackberry and the other advantages of Kik just aren’t enough to kill my SMS habit.  It’s a shame, because the idea really seemed like a great one.  Unfortunately, not every great idea – even if executed perfectly – does not turn into a commercial success.

UPDATE: Kik responded!

Well, we shall see then, eh?  I anxiously look-forward to see what they’ve got up their sleeve…


4 Responses to “Kikstarting A New Business (or Not)”

  1. Shane Hawk February 13, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    Okay, so basically you just tell your own experience using Kik and include a graphic of their website traffic…

    What is the purpose of this aside from wasted time reading?

    Any day now, Apple shall approve their update that brings picture messaging. In early March, Kik is issuing another update bringing group messaging to itself.

    Time to write another article soon.

    • The Analyst February 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      If you think your time was wasted reading this article you definitely failed to understand any of it, and will not benefit from any further explanation. Maybe try reading it a few more times and you’ll get it through your thick skull.

    • AndyWEllis February 14, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      TheAnalyst brings up good points, most services don’t peak with viral growth and then plummet to irrelevance. The main obstacle historically for social networking services has been overcoming the chicken-egg dilemma, in this case, why would I start using Kik if none of my friends use Kik? Well, they managed to get a lot of users very quickly and, for a time, the users messaged on the service heavily. So there is an enigma as to why there was such a significant drop off, assuming that Kik is superior to SMS (I agree that it is).

      My hypothesis is that most of the early proponents of Kik were BBM’ers who wanted their non-Blackberry wielding friends to be able to have BBM-esque conversations with them via this awesome new App. People began using it and liking it, great. Then RIM, aware of their own inadequacy and not knowing how to react, pulled the plug on the service for a time and intentionally slowed it down for BB users for another significant chunk of time. I switched from Kik back to SMS because my friend was getting my messages with up to an hour delay, not too instant.

      RIM effectively halted the momentum of KIk’s expansion via isolating Kik’s core proponents and heavy early adopters. That, and they didn’t bring other features to the table quick enough such as Group Messaging. There are two guys that I’m working on a project with that I’d love to be able to use Kik for one threaded conversation but I can’t. Other Apps allow it and I assume Kik’s lost some marketshare to Beluga and GroupMe.

      All opinions, none substantiated, merely based off my own personal experiences and guesses.


  1. Tweets that mention Kikstarting A New Business « Stone Street Advisors -- - February 12, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matt Webb, Matt Webb. Matt Webb said: Kikstarting A New Business […]

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