Kik, a new chat application for smartphones that is quicker and more social than SMS, is showing impressive viral uptake. The company says it has registered 450,000 downloads in the first 10 days since going live. There appears to be a strong demand for the ability to circumvent the carriers for quick messages, as the Kik Messenger app for the Apple iPhone, Android and BlackBerry has just surpassed 1 million users in only a few short weeks. The company tells it registered 250,000 new users in 24 hours yesterday, pushing it over 900,000 total registrations. It’s on track to blow past a million users today, just two weeks after launch. That growth would be unprecedented for any service. “And it’s still accelerating,” chief executive Ted Livingston told.
Kik is a cross platform messaging app for all smart phones. It’s very similar to Blackberry messaging (BBM), in the sense that it shows your message has been sent, delivered and read. The app looks for for contacts in your address book that have signed up for Kik, and suggests adding them to your Kik contact list simply by messaging them. CEO Ted Livingston has given VentureBeat some more details about the company’s plans to use Kik Messenger as the basis for ambitious streaming media sharing. Users will be able to stream the music that they’re listening to to other devices – something that also works for photos and videos.
First, here’s how the app works: Once you download the application (Kik supports the iPhone, Android and Blackberry/RIM), it checks your address book and recommends the friends and other contacts you are likely to know who already have downloaded Kik. You can then start chatting with them immediately. Like IM, it’s asynchronous, meaning it lets you see messages immediately, including when the person you’re chatting with is typing. Additionally, it lets you know when they’ve actually read their message.
Like some IM services, Kik lets you see messages instantly. You can even see when the other person is typing. As a result, it feels more immediate than standard text messages and competing chat apps. It labels each message as either “sent,” “delivered” or “read,” letting you know in real time when the user gets and reads it on the other end. The only other service that does this is BlackBerry Messenger. But Livingston says Kik’s service is even faster than BBM. And Kik’s service is free for smartphone users, most of whom are already paying for data plans but may have to pay extra for SMS text messages — which are a notorious ripoff in terms of price per kilobyte of data.
The most exciting and compelling news about Kik is its potential. Kik can let you take and send pictures, as well as stream the music you’re listening to directly from your phone over your friend’s phone. The same can be done for video, and here’s the best part: it can be done over any device, phone, computer, video game consoles- anything with a browser. While none of these services are available right now with the app, Livingston demonstrated this advanced streaming technology, and can update the app down the road.