Kik is an instant messaging service much like BlackBerry Messenger, except it’s cross-platform. Downloads for the app have been pretty explosive, with the company reporting having exceeded 2M users due to viral growth. Recently, Kik downloads were suspended and there’s a lot of speculation going around as to why this may have happened.
On Friday, RIM told Kik that no new downloads could be made of the app, citing concerns that it “could not elaborate on at the time.” The app continues to sell on Apple and Android, so why has RIM shut this one down?
Some are claiming that the app was pulled due to a battery drain issue, but this probably isn’t the case. There are many apps and themes that are in App World that have a battery drain issue, and RIM doesn’t seem to be pulling them. The more likely issue is the same feature that has helped Kik explode virally. Kik has a fairly aggressive strategy of pulling contacts into the app and using that to promote downloads. On the other had, WhatsApp uses a similar strategy, and even keeps a copy on their own servers, making it an even bigger security threat. So why isn’t WhatsApp pulled?
UPDATE: While the VentureBeat story sourced in this article claims that WhatsApp stores your contacts on their server, WhatsApp wanted us to know that this is not true. They write:
Our application uses your phone number, just like SMS and Voice calling does. The concept is very simple: if somebody knows your phone number they can call you, sms you and whatsapp you. We do NOT store your address book or your contacts on our servers. That would be a stupid thing to due from both privacy issues and design limitations.
Perhaps none of this is RIM at all. RIM can’t really stop someone from letting users download an app from the company’s own servers, and Kik has pulled the app from their own site as well. It could be a measure to keep a positive relationship with RIM, or simply they’re using the downtime to upgrade servers and drive a little marketing behind the app.
UPDATE FROM RIM: “RIM became aware of a number of issues and customer concerns regarding the Kik app and service and, following discussions with Kik, the app was removed from BlackBerry App World. RIM is actively reviewing the issues and potential resolutions, and is also continuing its discussions with Kik.”