By Nick Smith
Kik Messenger has gone viral. The phone app, available on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, has been downloaded by more than 1 million users in 15 days and continues to see more than 25,000 people added each hour.
Kik is a real-time instant messaging service that allows users of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry smartphones to communicate with each other. Kik can act as a texting replacement, with the user on the other end getting a Push notification when messaged, or as a real-time chat. When chatting with someone, Kik shows a message saying when they're typing and a little icon next to each of your messages shows when it has been sent, delivered, and received.
The downloads have taken off because users like the prospect of instant messaging with friends and colleagues quickly, like AOL's (NYSE:AOL) Instant Messenger many years ago. Further, the application works with all three of the popular smartphone platforms, allowing users to chat quickly and more efficiently than before.
With such a promising start for a young company, it's only a matter of time before markets start talking about acquisition hawks. Companies in Silicon Valley love technology that has happy users, and such organic growth is difficult to conceptualize and execute.
The usual suspects come to mind when considering tech giants that would gain with the purchase of Kik. Google, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Facebook are the three that make the most sense. While Yahoo! and Facebook both have merit, Google could benefit most.
Google has its popular Gmail Gchat for regular internet use, but has yet to produce a similarly strong alternative for phones. If Google could incorporate Gmail's versatile e-mail and document management capabilities with Kik Messenger's instant chat in one app, then it could dominate the mobile phone market in e-mail, search, and advertising.
Further, Kik is exploring a technology feature called "Sneaky Rhino," which allows users to wirelessly connect their smartphone to any PC or TV. Users could remotely access their home computer's music collection or set their TV DVR. This would pair seamlessly with Google's new TV service, and could allow the company to further integrate its technology in the home.
Kik may be temporarily off the radars of the preeminent technology behemoths. But don't be surprised when a big company swoops up this start-up for a small chunk of change, and then profits enormously off of its potential.