Kik is the First Real BlackBerry Messenger Competitor, Raises $8m

By Bilal Hameed Comment

Kik iPhone Kik Interactive, the company behind the mobile messenger app that mimics Blackberry Messenger in every meaningful way, has raised $8 million in first round of funding from RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures.

Kik will be using the newly acquired cash to fuel the next round of development, which includes release of group messaging and picture sharing features. In other words, Kik is already eyeing the few features that it lacks as compared to the popular BlackBerry Messenger.

The group messaging feature that Kik has just released, allows users of iOS and Android devices to add upto 10 people in a conversation.

Kik’s photo sharing functionality allows users to share photos with anyone as seamlessly as clicking a button and the photo is actually shared instead of being sent to the other person via a file transfer. This makes the sharing a lot more interactive and puts a person right with his friends, allowing him to see what his friend is seeing as it happens.

Kik was launched in October 2010, by a team of students at the University of Waterloo, and ever since its public release – it has seen strong up-take among mobile users on the Android and iPhone platforms. According to Ted Livingston, founder and CEO of Kik:

Kik Messenger took the mobile chat world by storm four months ago, gaining more than one million users in its first 15 days, and our growth continues to be strong. This round of funding allows us to continue perfecting our Kik Messenger application and other services, which we believe will help define the future of mobile communications.

The immense growth experienced by Kik, has led RIM to consider releasing its BlackBerry Messenger on other platforms as well. RIM’s plan is to offer BBM as kind of a freemium app – where by users on other platforms like Android and iOS, would only have access to a stripped down version of BBM that will only allow them to communicate with each other via text messages. In order to be able to share photos or videos, users would have to switch to BlackBerry devices. So RIM plans to control the messaging market on other platforms, while enticing users to switch to BlackBerry’s at the same time.

However, I am quiet skeptical regarding the success of this approach as iPhone and Android users might not be willing to give up on their beloved devices. Unfortunately for RIM, Kik provides them with a very compelling reason to not do so.