The messaging wars are in full swing, and Waterloo-based Kik is still seeing tremendous positive growth despite trailing its rival WhatsApp in terms of total userbase size. The company revealed today that it has just passed 100 million registered users, having added 70 million of those since this time last year. The startup also launched Cards, its HTML5-based in-app content sharing system this time last year, and engagement on those apps-within-an-app has been promising, too, according to Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston.
“For us, growth gets a really big bump over Thanksgiving, which is a combination of new devices and people being in a new social sphere and sharing their passion for Kik,” he explained, pointing to factors that have helped them reach this milestone. “It’s hard to know what exactly is prompting growth. I wouldn’t say there’s anyone coming to Kik just for Cards and not for the messaging platform, but what it does do is provide a way for people to look at it and say ‘Look at all the fun things I can do with Kik that I can’t do with any other messaging apps.”
As for Cards, they’ve seen around 145 million installs on peoples’ devices, and over 85 percent of those come from shares, meaning that people are installing Cards because they’ve received them from friends and found them interesting. One Card, called Costume Party, managed to reach 1 million users in just 22 hours, so you start to see how this could become a platform for message-based networking in the same way that Facebook evolved over time as a development target.
Cards are a strong component of Kik’s continued success, but there are still a lot of challenges on the horizon. For instance, Twitter appears to be doing more with Direct Messages on its platform, and now allows people to send photos using it. It seems like it could be only a matter of time before they make their own cards available via their private messaging network, too, which would end up being remarkably similar to Kik’s Cards. Kik’s implementation is much more like full-fledged apps, however, and Livingston says the most surprising thing about it has been that people often note how seamless the Cards are, and how they feel like native experiences, instead of web apps.
WhatsApp has 350 million monthly users, as of October, so Kik still has a long way to go to catch up. But with Cards, it’s investing heavily in its platform play, and that appears to be paying dividends.