A couple weeks ago Kik released a new version of their Kik Messenger application which allowed for free text communication between iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices. The service is similar to Blackberry Messenger (aka BBM) in that it uses the data network to transmit text messages and also shows when a message has been sent, delivered and read. The difference between Kik and BBM, aside from the feature set, is that BBM can only be used by Blackberry users to communicate with other Blackberry users. With Kik you can also communicate with iPhone users and Android users which makes the app all the more appealing. There are other apps out there that do the same thing, like PingChat, but Kik seemed to have the reliability and speed that I was looking for where as PingChat is trying to jam all sorts of fancy features into the app before working on their infrastructure. PingChat also lags pretty bad in all aspects on the Blackberry which made it a problem for my girlfriend, and I don’t blame her. But this isn’t a post comparing PingChat to Kik this is a post with one sole purpose, to voice my opinion regarding the recent pulling of Kik from the Blackberry App World.
Kik’s success in the recent weeks is partially due to an oversight in security and privacy within the app. When you sign up with Kik the app automatically scans your address book and looks for other people that have a Kik account, it then notifies you and them that you may know this person. This is a concern to some people because it opens you up to messages from people you may not necessarily want to have your Kik username, and I completely understand people’s concerns. This was the main suspect behind RIM pulling the Kik Messenger app from the App World just over a week ago, there were also rumblings that it may have something to do with the app causing batteries to die quickly (which my girlfriend has noticed since installing the app), but essentially it was thought to be a privacy concern. So naturally you would expect Kik to bang out an update to at least the Blackberry app so that it would be returned to the App World and people could continue to sign up…. and that’s exactly what they did, but apparently RIM is still having none of it.
In a recent blog post on Kik’s website they state that RIM is now crippling all push access to Kik users on Blackberry’s which is resulting in messages taking about an hour to be delivered to handsets. I actually noticed this last night when messaging my girlfriend, but I thought maybe Kik was just having another issue as they have grown extremely fast in the past few weeks so I can’t fault them for having a few delivery issues. As it turns out this is in fact RIM’s doing and they’ve even gone as far as to remove Kik’s access to the SDK and signing keys so all further development for the Blackberry is currently on hold… this is absolute bullshit. I understand that RIM has every right to approve or reject apps from their App World, but why would they approve it in the first place? It almost seems as though they see competition to their highly successful BBM service and feel threatened by the success of Kik. I would hate to see Kik be stomped out because of jealousy, but RIM, there are plenty of other messaging apps out there that are cross platform on iPhone, Android and Blackberry, so why are you singling out Kik? At least give a legitimate response on the issue and let everyone know what’s going on. I’m sure if you have concerns of privacy or battery life, Kik would be willing to listen and resubmit the app for approval… oh wait, they did (link) and you still won’t put it back and allow push messages to go through in a reasonable amount of time.
I’ve never liked Blackberry’s, ever, but this just makes me dislike them even more. My girlfriend seems to like them so I have to deal with them on a regular basis, but recently I’ve been trying to get her to switch to an iPhone and with this going on I may have to press the issue a little bit harder, or at the very least get her on Android.
I just wanted to say my piece regarding this issue as I love Kik and hope that things work out soon as it’s a great alternative to texting considering AT&T absolutely rapes you for texting charges, so I just hope RIM comes to their senses and realizes that they are making a huge mistake. If you have a second, head on over to Kik’s official blog and check out their post regarding this issue. I paraphrased most of it, but there are a few other things I didn’t touch on and they are a little more eloquent in their wording.
source: Kik Messenger Blog
Update (11/24/10): RIM seems to have released a [vague] statement regarding the Kik issue:
“RIM became aware of a number of issues and customer concerns regarding the Kik app and service. Following discussions with Kik, the app was removed from BlackBerry App World on November 12. Upon further investigation, RIM concluded that Kik had breached contractual obligations. Based on the broad scope and seriousness of the issues and concerns, RIM terminated its agreements with Kik and withdrew RIM’s support for Kik’s service.”
I really wish they would just come out and say what the issue was, but I guess that’s between RIM and Kik now. Hopefully adjustments can be made and everyone can be happy, but it seems like RIM is making some pretty serious allegations if they went so far as to terminate their agreements with Kik…