If you’ve heard about the Kik messaging app, or as some would call it, “the new BBM”, you probably sat at the cool-kid lunch-table at school. Kik, a multi-platform messaging app designed to do one thing — communicate instantly and effortlessly with buddies — has absolutely exploded over the last few weeks. Originally on track to launch an innovative (and pretty cool) music-sharing, remote-controllable service, Kik soon found themselves creating a messaging app with some of their existing technology while the music service firmed up behind the scenes. After a pretty poor original launch (I tried Kik back then and the beta was definitely a beta — I uninstalled it soon after it was first installed), Kik stripped away almost everything until they ended up with one of the quickest and most reliable messaging apps around.
Kik has over 1.2 million unique users signed up, Kik CEO Ted Livingston told BGR yesterday evening. The company is expecting its user-base to cross the 1.75-million user mark any day. Ted even said that Kik had to charter a plane and load it up with extra servers to bring to their data center just to keep the service up and running to handle the influx of users. Kik’s growth is nothing short of remarkable, with a completely viral marketing initiative spreading like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter. What’s exciting is that Kik knows that their users expect an even better user experience, and even more features. Here is what Kik is planning on doing:
They have just submitted a new update for the app to Apple’s App Store which should fix any bugs, but more importantly introduce new privacy features. We’re told Kik will add the ability to opt-out of the service suggesting users to you (and you to other users) in addition to the ability to block users. Going one step beyond this, instead of introducing an accept/decline system for friend requests, Kik seems to have a pretty nifty solution planned. By default, you will be able to make it so that any user who you don’t manually add to your buddy list, won’t be able to message you. If they happen to get your Kik username and send you a message, you won’t get it. They’ll get an automatic response to their sent message that you have enabled a privacy feature and that you would need to message them first.
After solidifying the app and introducing these new privacy features, Kik plans to bet big on photo sharing. Sending pictures back and forth isn’t anything new, but it links in nicely with Kik long-term strategy — a desktop browser-based mobile community. Kik is touting a system they have created to let your phone sign you into Kik.com, thus accessing your buddy list, shared photos, and possibly even more down the road. It appears to be a pretty novel concept, just walk up to your computer, wave your phone back and forth, the system will authenticate you, and you’re off and running. All your buddies are there, you can chat, see your message history, photos, and other content in one place. We still don’t know how Kik plans to monetize their service. It would prove to be pretty difficult to start charging millions of people for a service that was free from the beginning, but mobile ads are certainly a possibility in our mind. Possibly a premium product with additional features? Who knows. All we do know is that with Android, BlackBerry and iPhone apps that can all talk to each other, you don’t have an excuse not to be on Kik.