Two years ago, Kik started inviting other companies to test their bot’s presence on their network through what it later called “advertising chat. In April, Kik debuted Bot shop – in-app store fronts where users can connect to new bot services (like individual shoppers from H&M) and games (like Arterra, a post-apocalyptic space adventure). A week later, Facebook announced its new bot platform and bot store at its annual F8 developer conference. The Kik executives insisted they weren’t planning the David-bops-Goliath moment. But they smiled as they said that.
Kik’s bots live in a chat app, but they don’t really want to chat much with you. It turns out that, in order to provide conventional information, at least, the conversation is not very effective. For example, if you need a daily weather report, you might not want to go over a hit or miss joke with each forecast. That is exactly what Poncho, a chatbot announced at the Facebook bot launch, offers it and it opens up to harsh reviews. (“Frustrating and useless” – Gizmodo; “Slowest Internet usage” – The Verge.).
For Kik, the key word in “interface” is not “conversation” but “interface”.
“If you go to our bot store, almost none of them use a 26-character alphanumeric keyboard,” says Livingston. “They ask you a question, but then they give you four five and six buttons as a hint and you pick one. Which adventure do you want to continue? AB or C? “Almost like… a cell phone? “Yes – no big deal. But the friction to try that experience is almost zero.
Livingston interviews follow the same module, like navigating an adventure story of your choice: He’s always helpful in presenting you with options to choose from. “There was past – I can tell you, go back, how did we get here. There are present – why do I think the shows are interesting? Then there’s the future – like, open or close, I think what’s going to be interesting about bots, what might be disturbing, all of that. So where do you want to go? “
I clicked on “past” and Livingston rewinds the original story of Kik’s formation.
2010 Kik released a messaging app operating on iOS, Android and Blackberry popular at the time, allowing users to communicate no matter what device they owned. The company that was formed a year earlier began creating a music app and building Messenger as a tool for sharing songs. But the implementation of music rights transactions took place endlessly, and in the meantime, messenger has become viral, because it allows Blackberry users and the growing crowd of iPhone and Android game users. Free cross-platform chat. It recorded one million new users in two weeks – “the fastest adoption in human history,” says Livingston, firing the phrase as if he were fed up with it. “We were the first to penetrate the wall.” Two weeks later, Blackberry launched Kik out of its app store, banned the app from its platform and sued Kik for patent infringement. It seems that the company likes a world where if you want to text Blackberry users, you need to buy a Blackberry. “We were on top of the world, and then one day, with the touch of a switch, it disappeared. All of our users who are using Blackberry or are talking to someone on Blackberry cannot use Kik anymore. And that is everyone. “
For Kik, it was a rude expulsion from the growing startup garden. Livingston and his associates roam the wilderness. They just raised 8 million dollars from investors. “We have money, but we don’t have users,” Livingston said. Other companies like WhatsApp started moving into the space that Kik opened up and Blackberry gave up trying to stop them, but the damage to Kik was done. That’s when Kik got serious about turning chat into a software platform.