Messaging service Kik is celebrating 30 million downloads with the release of a new feature that enables you to share multimedia content in conversations, and might also generate revenue for the company. The new feature, called Kik Cards, allows users to add games, apps, embed YouTube videos, etc. to a user’s message stream. Kik Cards are actually small HTML5 applets coded by a 28-member Kik team, who have been working on it for over a year.
The app grew popular quite quickly when it was launched in 2010, with 2 million users registering in the first month. Kik founder Ted Livingston claims that they have around 100,000 new users every day.
Kik Messenger records 30 million downloads
The Kik Card feature works in a simple way. Contents show up in a user’s message stream when shared by friends. If that user doesn’t have that Card activated on their account, it’s immediately added to their card list once they click on the message.
“We think people want a really simple experience on mobile,” Livingston explained in an interview. “We haven’t added a feature to Kik in like a year and a half, since 2011, with group messaging. And everyone has asked ‘So what are you going to do next to differentiate yourself from the other messengers out there,’ but I was worried that if we add all this stuff, we’d ruin the product. And over time we saw a lot of people do that.”
But how these cards end up working depends on Kik tying up with companies and creating branded cards. A company could create an interactive game card with Kik to push a product or promote it, which users can then share with each other.
Add multimedia content to your conversations with Kik Cards
It'll be interesting to see how Kik manages to monetise the service without turning its users off. Even Facebook has faced several obstacles in its bids to generate revenue while keeping the essence of the website alive. Kik’s control over the kind of cards are used will prove essential.
“We’re not going to put a banner ad at the bottom, because even if users click it, it’s going to be by mistake. It’s going to be a bad experience for you, it’s going to be a bad experience for us and for everyone,” Livingston said, describing why this is a better monetisation route for the app to take. “Here, you can do a great experience right in the app and users can choose to share the ones that they genuinely like and not share the one that they don’t.”
Meanwhile, Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry, is still locked in a lawsuit with Kik over patent infringement allegations. Livingston had interned with RIM before going on to create Kik, an app that 1 million BlackBerry messenger users downloaded within a week. While the lawsuit still rages on, Kik has been adopted by Android and iOS users alike, with 40 percent of its users owning Android devices and iPhones, and another 20 percent using the iPod Touch.