Did RIM Kill Kik Messenger App Because of BBM Similarities?

 

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) pulled the Kik messenger app from its BlackBerry App World store a couple of weeks ago and now has practically disabled the app. The company has also banned Kik’s maker from the BB SDK and signing keys, which effectively means all future development on the BB version is dead. Why such the hash response by RIM? “Breached contractual obligations” is all the company will say.

In case you are unfamiliar with Kik, it is a cross-platform messaging app that uses ‘push’ technology to allow real-time messaging. Not a big deal but a definite improvement over text messaging. The fact that there are iOS, BB and Android versions of the app definitely makes it more useful than a messaging app that only runs one platform. *cough* BlackBerry Messenger *cough*. It is the similarities between Kik and BBM (combined with the fact that Kik is available on most smartphones in the US) that have fueled speculation that RIM pulled Kik because it competes directly against BBM and takes the wind out of RIM’s BBM marketing campaign. In case you haven’t seen any BlackBerry commercials lately, RIM has been touting BBM for months.

From Kik’s blog:

“Some people have suggested that we’re ‘too similar’ to RIM’s instant messaging product, and that somehow this is behind their decision. We would be surprised and disappointed if there is any truth to this, as RIM has always championed the BlackBerry ecosystem as an open platform. However, if true, the implications would go well beyond Kik to the entire mobile community, users and developers alike.”

What RIM had to say about Kik:

“RIM became aware of a number of issues and customer concerns regarding the Kik app and service…RIM concluded that Kik had breached contractual obligations. Based on the broad scope and seriousness of the issues and concerns, RIM terminated its agreements with Kik and withdrew RIM’s support for Kik’s service.”

I have a feeling that there might be more going on here than just RIM getting angry because it thought that users would ditch BBM for a similar app that works on iOS and Android. Could this all be tied into some type of privacy concern over Kik accessing contacts and using them to expand virally? Possibly. We may never know the truth if both sides have an agreement not to talk about their negotiations.

So what do you all think? Kik do something wrong and RIM wanted them to stop? Or is this just RIM making itself look bad by throwing a crying fit over a BBM competitor that actually lets you talk to your friends who don’t count themselves among the crackberry legion? Tell me in the comments.

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