Ted from Kik. Just wanted to jump in and answer a few questions:
On October 21, 2010 we launched a completely new service. The only thing that was the same between new Kik and old Kik was the name and the app store accounts. Users from the old system (about 55K active in the last week before the hard switch over) were notified that the new service was available and that the old one would soon be shut down. About 23K did get the upgrade, but almost all of them dropped it immediately due to losing all of their contacts from the old system, and the now lack of built in SMS texting. You can see this in the graphs - a brief peak, followed by a multi day flat line. I really apologize if this is misleading, it was not intentional.
The numbers. They are real. We can hardly believe it ourselves. The app is built to be incredibly viral (more on that later), but we never spam any of your contacts. All that happens is on registration, we do a quick one time, secure scan to let you know who on Kik you might know. That's it. Nothing is ever stored or shared, and nobody outside Kik will ever hear even a peep that you have joined Kik (unless, of course, you tell them, which a lot of people seem to be doing!) From there, people keep using it because they really like it. It is a bit hard to understand or explain (well, not as hard as Twitter I guess, but still) so it is probably best to just use the app for a bit. You will see why people like it.
We are moving as fast as possible to scale the servers, and add features. As noted below, we've been working on our vision for almost two years now, and this is just the first step. Expect some pretty cool things to come, and until then, thank you for letting us share in this incredible ride.
landing on blog posts where the template/sidebar etc. give you no idea about the service or even link to signup/homepage is so annoying yet so easy to fix
I hate having to edit off the end of the URL and going to just the domain to find out what the product is about
A small startup decided it couldn't scale what the users were offered in an earlier version so the natural decision was to pull the plug.
Anyway not trying to criticise this is incredible either way, but it's definitely different to going from 0 to 1m users.
this is incredible either way
I'm just saying there is a difference. 55,000 people instantly aware of your new product who used your old product is a massive boost compared to 0 people knowing about your product when you release it. Anyway this is a fruitless discussion, it's impressive, just different!
That's okay, right?
Their history deserves mentioning and is likely what put them in a position to be able to launch, market and scale effectively. The users may not be the same, but the strategies and the tactics used to get there are likely based on previous experiences as well as having some great people get them this far.
Obviously this community isn't the target of their post, but I would be even more interested in hearing the whole story: how they went from zero to 55K customers in 7 months, lost almost all of them, and then scaled it back up to a million users in two weeks
And we've been using it longer than 15 days, so to me the headline/graph is misleading. They just released a complete overhaul so they reached a million users on v2 of their software, but how many did v1 have?
quoting the blog post "We re-launched Kik Messenger 15 days ago with 0 users"
I also know Ted and he's not the type to make up numbers for attention. Keep in mind that they've been working on some variation of this for over a year, so while they took off virally very quickly, it's not an "overnight success", it's a "hard work finally pays off" one.
From Thursday, 3 days ago. I looked around the blog, it seems they "went viral" around November 1st. I also found a claim they're getting 3 new registrations per second. Very strange, but also fantastic if it's real!
I don't have any of these devices it supports, but I get the impression the cross compatibility is what caused the popularity.
There must be something to it, I just don't know what.
If it wasn't for the buzz, it is a product website I would just brush past without a second glance
Many people only use Blackberry because of the speed and D/R status of BBM regardless of how they feel about the device.
But I'm concern about this service and privacy. It uses same tactic as Buzz (which tactic I didn't like).
Here is my understanding - please correct me if I'm wrong:
First, Kik ties in a person's username with their email address. Kik then sorts through the person's addressbook to find potential friends. This is kinda privacy issue because a user may not want someone that is in their addressbook to know they have a Kik account. But other people (my stock broker, tax consultant) will because if they have your email address then they also have your Kik username without authorization or adding that person to your friends list.
Is there a way to disable the above approach - maybe to ask which people will see you on Kik?
Those are actually real accounts backed by unique emails. We haven't expected such a viral growth ourselves but.. we don't complain :) Other than complete lack of sleep due to the scaling needs.
Hence my question: are there any brilliant server developers looking for a job with Kik? :)
When I first heard of Kik, I thought it to be somewhat repetitive. There are tons of apps just like it. But, the viral nature of the app sold me. The fact that contacts are automatically added allow me to use the app immediately.
The next steps for Kik are crucial. People are going to have a problem with being so accessible to people they don't know. The ability to block users might arise conflict with "Why did you block me on Kik?" I'm interested to see how they handle these issues. On top of that, they're adding image support, which I think is a pretty hefty dent on their servers.
Again, congrats on the growth, but good luck with keeping your users! As of right now, it took me a whole minute to send a Kik message out. I'm sticking to Blackberry Messenger for now, which by the way is an amazing client minus lack of cross-mobile platform availability.
Kik.com kicks ass, instead of 'socialmsgr.im'
My only advice to entrepreneurs is: pick a great name.
Delivering a great product is just mandatory.
Funny thing is, they are literally across the hall from Enflick, which is another IM startup that's wildly successful.
I use a multi-protocol IM client on my phone, which has a constant link in the background to my GTalk, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, Skype, etc. - That way people can IM me any time from whatever platform they're currently on, whether it be computer, phone, browser, etc. But with Kik they have to be on a phone as well? That's really a step backwards, if they're sitting at their computer, logged into 5 separate IM clients already, and then have to pick up their phone to IM me. But it has obvious solutions.
I could understand that a great IM app could have some draw.
I'd love to know more here. Out of these 1,000,000 users, how many of these are actual activated users? After 15 days, what's the retention like? Where are all of these users coming from, and how does the origin of the user affect activation and retention?
One lesson that we've been learning the hard way is that it's one thing to acquire users, and it's another thing entirely to convert a new user into a long-term, engaged customer. I'd love to hear how Kik is approaching that, given their success in acquisition.
Personally, I couldn't register. Keeps saying I have no network yet other apps work fine.
You help me and I'll help you but leave it up to me to tell my friends about it.
I'm sure I read the following on HN just a few days ago talking about similar privacy concerns with social platforms:
"If your privacy practices aren't transparent, then you introduce doubt. Doubt leads to lower usage."
It's one thing for me to receive emails from friends inviting me to try a new service they're using, but it's really intrusive to receive txts from kik telling me to sign up every time someone I know installs the app.
"Free messaging between iPhone BB and android users, faster. Once everyone is on it we can reduce SMS plan. It is great."
So the kik guys have apparently done a great job messaging their benefits to users. ;)
Who knows, since I'm curious I could perhaps download the app and make an account and then find out that it's not what I thought it was, but I would be counted as +1 users in this million... Wonder how many people did that.
"This is just the start. The next step is adding free (legal) music sharing, and it will be sweet. Really sweet."
Curious. I guess they aren't happy with sticking to messaging and will keep adding social features.