Today, I read a Forbes article about Kik, a Canadian messaging app that is "racing to build a global chat platform."
Apparently high school students across the U.S. have been all over the app; the company says 40% of U.S. teenagers (around 20 million according to recent census data) are now active users.
Kik says 40% of U.S. teenagers are currently active users of the app.
The app has all the basic functionality you would expect from a chat application. You can send and receive messages, create a list of contacts, create public and private chat groups… There are also some neat features such as a meme library, which lets you quickly and easily select a photo and add text to it to send to a friend.
While messaging a friend you can also quickly browse "viral videos," sketch a picture or do an image search. It’s all integrated within the app in a seamless experience. Particularly with the videos, it provides faster access to the latest trends, which I think young people would find appealing. It’s provides a very easy way to share that kind of content. It’s also fairly anonymous: Other users can only see your username and not your email address or phone number. Very little profile information is required.
While analysts are quick to position Kik as a challenger to more mainstream messaging apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat, I think Kik serves a more targeted market.
Kik differs from other messaging apps in that it a) requires no mobile number and b) offers playful and seamless integration of other media: sketched pictures, images, a meme library and videos.
Facebook, for example, is based on having an identity, building out a profile, gathering friends and sharing content with larger groups. It’s fairly public space. Right now, Kik appears to be much more low key and focused strictly on communication with a single individual or targeted groups of individuals.
I haven’t used WeChat so I can’t speak to that very well, but after testing out Kik, I do prefer this chat interface over that of Facebook. For me, the barrier would be the number of people who are also using Kik and the fact that much of my online social sharing happens through Facebook, so I would be more inclined to use its messaging app as well, rather than switching back and forth between platforms. Someday, they may have more of an overlap, but right now they feel quite separated.