Feature Friday: Kik Browser
On wednesday, our portfolio company Kik added something to their very popular mobile messenger – a browser. I guess a browser can hardly be called a feature. But inside a mobile messenger, a browswer can become a feature.
Now when you find a song in soundcloud that you want to send to a friend, you can pull it up in the kik browser and kik it your friend who can listen right inside kik, in the browser.
Here’s what I did this morning:
I opened soundcloud mobile in the kik browser
I found the new Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr mixtape:
And I sent it to Ted Livingston, Kik’s founder and CEO:
Now Ted can listen to the mixtape right inside of Kik.
This works for anything that can be rendered in a mobile web page, an item on Etsy, a place on Foursquare, a stock quote on Google Finance, a search result on Duck Duck Go, etc, etc, etc
You can download Kik here and check it out.
I believe that the mobile environment lacks the native virality of the web. With a mobile messenger and the mobile web inside of it, we can get back to that place on mobile. So this is exciting and very promising to me.
” mobile environment lacks the native virality of the web”So true.And it lacks the structure for community as well.
it has immediacy though.
Immediacy without “community” is just self gratification…or maybe just convenience? Definitely serves a purpose. Unfortunately, it misses the broader point.
I disagree with @awaldstein:disqus on the need for structure.I call it the ‘relationship favour bank’.When I need help from someone in my community…….. say I just got rear ended @ a red light 4 blocks from school on the after school pick up run…….I Immediately message a parent of one of my children’s friends……When I come to pick up the kids 3 weeks later and one of their friends is standing outside with no parent in sight, she gets in my vehicle ……………..and I immediately message her parent(s).No structure. Light bonds of community. HUGE value.Kik is leveraging the immediacy of their platform. Smart move.When online messaging first arrived in the Pleistocene era of the Internet, it wasn’t called Structured Contextual Messaging, after all……..
Social networking that never coalesces to persistently enhance a community’s collective working conclusions or methods are ultimately just internet white noise generated by the tidal wave of mass-horizontal-nowness.Still, informational self gratification and convenience are pretty wonderful things in and of themselves and they ultimately accelerate that larger process !
So, they are bringing the web inside messaging. That’s powerful, and it changes the messaging paradigm. Users want to share content when they are messaging. It’s natural.
Totally agree. Very natural progression:- the web starts as pages, so it is organized around links to pages (Search);- the web becomes broadly mainstream, so it gets organized around posts by people (Social);- the web becomes mobile, so it gets organized around around messages to phones (Kik).Ted has this by the throat.
messaging becomes a platform for communications.
So… if Twitter couples a browser within it’s mobile app…giving all the same Kik functionality but with Twitter’s short form communication as the backbone, does that trump Kik? Or.. say Hootsuite pairs with Google and offers “browser” in their app leveraging the cross platform posting, etc.?I run a Nexus4 and, interestingly, I get the sense that the “alerts” are morphing into a unified timeline. What happens when cross-platform commenting, sharing and following comes built right into each alert?This speaks to @julien51:disqus’s point. We engage “when” we feel compelled, regardless of “where” the stimulus comes from. “Where” is more about “where” were we when we became compelled. We only journey back to the original site to comment…because that’s how the system is often set up…at this point.cc: @awaldstein:disqus @jameshrh:disqus @fredwilson:disqus
Twitter would be strategically insane to adopt any of Kik’s functionality. Following /= Messaging.People who use Twitter to message are free to do so, but ‘conversations’ are, what, 0.000001% of tweets? Its not why Twitter exists, which is an important thing to remember.Cross platform posting is a good idea, it just has nothing to do with Kikking something to your friends (its posting, not messaging).Julien is not wrong, he’s just not drilling down enough to be on point.You Kik things to people. Your expectation is that they will answer immediately.Now you can Kik URLs to people. Maybe send them a Used Car listing with the question “should a ’69 The Judge GTO have 7 decals on it?” or whatever……
It depends how they’d do it.
Good point !But still I can’t help thinking that in the larger context required to evolve an effective socially-epistemologic dynamic we will require a collaborative fabric of global mechanisms that integrate the good old fashion elementswhat – why – where – when – howinto a mimicry of collectively-persistant, holographicly-predictive comparators, built atop collective-smart-memory lookup-functions that are inherently analogous to individual human cognition.No matter how clever and convenient “cross-platform commenting, sharing and following” become, they are the tail not the dog, they need to be implemented in ways that can effectively support that larger contextual framework.
Enjoyed this comment but reading triggered a bit of http://m.youtube.com/watch?…
OUCH ! – cross threaded reality tunnels 🙁http://www.youtube.com/watc…
Well, Twitter has had the built-in browser for a while. I think the use cases are different from Kik.
I’m not sure I understand “Twitter has had the built-in browser for a while” .. what am I missing?
I meant if you click on a link inside Twitter on mobile, it will take you to that web page, and you can continue navigating inside twitter.
Now I understand what you are saying. Maybe I need to spend some time with Kik. But I don’t think clicking out is the same as having built-in browser functionality. Again though… this is where I need to go try Kik to see from within.
Try Poynt too (on iOS) for sharing within after searching on mobile.
Much like natural language communication where abstract words/phrases(communication summaries) carry compressed information that is instantly, effortlessly and transparently expanded contextually.
Context trumps content for certain.
Did you mean context trumps ‘content’…?
? Content is context.
I just don’t look at it that way.I can’t think of any piece of content in the abstract that has any context at all.The context of this discussion is the community not the topic. Is the topic unimportant–certainly not. If it was a topic on some Tech Crunch piece I would not have read it at all.
love your new avatar !have you joined the church of the sub-genius ?
LOL. it was just a friday fun thing. maybe i’ll keep it for a few days longer.
for this what handset are you using?have you tried out Orbot?
Kik runs on pretty much all mobile OSes
I’m more interested in the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. mixtape. 🙂
It’s just engines rev’ing….for 45 mins.;-)
There is a link to it in the post. Its great
What I assume is a “Send” message button looks a lot like a thumbsdown / dislike button. Confused me momentarily.
I have had Kik installed for a few years now and it looks really cool, but I don’t know a single person who uses it. Whatsapp reigns supreme I’m afraid.
You obviously don’t have a 12 yr old daughter.
Nor am I in the US.http://www.kik.com/blog/wp-…
Still works everywhere; it’s the interwebs.Popular with kids that don’t have mobile phones yet, but have ipod touches.
Your 12 year old likes Kiking people?
Me. All. the. time.
That’s awesome, though, that she wants to reach out to you!
More figurative kicking, then Kik’ing.
Not in the US. Kik is way more popular now in the US
Snapchat is probably bigger than both, no? (I don’t actually know, just a gut feeling)
Whatsapp is bigger globally. In the US Snapchat is #1 and Kik is #2 http://www.google.com/trend… You can toggle between US, global, or any other country
Interesting choice of tool for mobile native — although possibly nicely correlated.
Is this usage or search terms? Snapchat got a lot of negative coverage from popular media and local broadcasters in it’s early days. (And the controversy drove it’s success within it’s key demographic.)
Why wouldn’t links in messages just launch whatever browser is on the phone?What’s the big value add here?
good question – because it is hard to control experience?
I think making apps work well together is a better UX than trying to make an app a one-stop-shop. Embedding/Cards model is cool…and I think that’s what Kik has done. Framing it as a Kik browser just sounded like a yawn moment to me.
It is very hard to make apps work well together. They are, after all, walled gardens.
Maybe it’s like Microsoft going down the OLE rabbit hole, outside of embedding an Excel chart in a Word document it felt like a solution with no defined problem. What exactly was the point of sticking a sound recorder in a Write document?I’m starting to think of mobile UX as “timechunks” and believe the interface that best optimizes that will succeed. It could be the Firefox Launcher if it works like I think it does.
A developer can take the extra step of optimizing their mobile web app with a few lines of code and then their app becomes a card inside kikKind of like twitter cards
That was a better explanation, thanks.
So it’s like Twitter cards or embeddable media in the stream. That’s a better way to describe it, IMO, than as a Kik Browser…which left me wondering what’s the point? Now I get it, and it makes sense.
It’s a traffic leak otherwise.
Is that really still something product dev people obsess about and try to control?
In a lot of scenarios it’s not an issue, in some it is. I can’t say if others care or not, or to what degree – though it’s quite important whatever decision you make regarding what you do.
The disadvantage of that is you leave the messaging app, and you don’t want that if you want to share stuff with your friends. it’s all inside the messaging app.
Didn’t recognize you. Poodle looked cuter.I don’t think mobile apps should be built/designed to hold users hostage. Leads to bad UX. And with mobile it’s so easy to jump between apps, and back.
It’s fun friday :)well…the messaging apps don’t see it that. the more you can do inside the messaging app, the more you’ll use it, no?the thing is there is intent to share stuff with friends, and if it’s done inside the app without leaving it, then it’s faster and more productive for the user.i still would have loved a disqus app where I can comment, reply and read/follow where my friends are replying all inside that app. you would totally captivate those users with a disqus brand around it.
This is very smart. I’m always surprised that the browsers themselves are pretty much the same as they were 15 years ago. The HTML evolved (HTML5!), the usages evolved (obviously!), and the machines/OSes on which they run evolved… yet, browsers offer still the same featureset.One of my big “theories” is that the web is moving from a location based approach (we talk abour URL where L=location, we talk about IP/Email/site addresses, we talk about links, we talk about sitemaps and index pages… and even the icon of our browser is very telling: Safari is a compass and Firefox is obviously a globe). Yet, usages have changed: we’re now dealing with timelines, with ‘infinite scroll’, with notifications… which are all in the semantic field of time, rather than space.I’m sure the browsers will soon evolve into somthing new. The fact that almost all messaging tools (from Twitter to Kik thru snapshat and …) do not run well in browsers is a good indication that maybe these apps are somehow close to the browsers of the future. I’m also thinking that apps like Flipboard (and Facebook’s Paper?) may be in the same search for the new browser.
Great comment.I’m certain that time not place is the connector and that flash communities cutting across networks is exactly how groupings will happen on the web moving forward.
Exactly. I believe what we call “virality” on the web is exactly that: time based gathering of people/communities on the web. It does not matter if it’s on a youtube.com url a reddit.com url or imgur… the place is meaningless, it’s all about the “time”.BTW, Arnold, I’m in NYC next week. I’d *love* to share more about the topic if you have any time to meet.
You might get something from this post http://awe.sm/iIwXJRe getting together–Absolutely! [email protected] is the contact.
You are disproving your theory by commenting here :-0I think that ‘place’ is established online.i think that ‘events’ will be driven by the ‘always on’ nature of the mobile internet.One does not negate the other, essentially.
I actually commented “when” I found it… not so much where I found it. For example, a lot of Fred’s post end up on USV and I comment there when I found them there 🙂 Also, saying the place is irrelevant does not mean that there is no place.
Sure there is place. And sure content is a driver but I’m with Julien on this that time as is context are the core drivers of this discussion not place nor content itself.
I believe that context is extremely important but it seems we have a different understanding of the role of content vis a vis context. For me, content provides context. If you and I comment on a youtube video the content of the video provides the context that enables our comments to be decoded. This is very different from a lot of messaging where there is no (or very little) context! In this latter case conversations must evolve their own context. http://www.avc.com is a case in point. Fred writes a piece and people comment on it. You can’t comment without underlying content. Imho commenting is an incredibly deep and powerful fundamental operation. And its power stems precisely from the fact that there is underlying content.
See above Pete.There are many ways to look at anything. We are just doing it from opposite sides in this case.Content publishing is 99% garbage. Lightly curated dreck, pushed out under the belief that content is its own context.Content like a post within an engaged community can be cathartic in its discussion.Context trumps content all day long–at least from where I sit.
But the post is content and it is that content around which the community condenses.
This one’s for you Pete:–>Context more than content is why networks matter http://awe.sm/aIGwP
An interesting post.Here’s the thing that I find helps me better understand this kind of content vs community dichotomy.I am happy to be proven wrong but here is where I am on it right now.Most communities are based not primarily on social relationships (e.g. kinship) but rather by interests.If I want to engage about model drones I have to find people who share my interest. So interest to me is primary. This of course is why ‘location’ is important. I have to know where to find those who share my interests not just know that the kind of people I find interesting are participating in some time bounded community. In fact I’m not even sure how I can find such a community.Given that interest is central how to content and community then play out?This content may vary a great deal, from a simple question to an academic paper. But no matter when the community may take the conversation it starts at least around the topic of the content. Relationships are made in online communities typically because of the respect that person A has for person B’s knowledge of the topic as much as their wit etc. It is this importance of the content that is why commenting is so important. And by commenting I mean any response of any kind in any media or combination of media to the underlying content.A longstanding online community such as AVC assumes the form it does from the content it concerns itself with as much as the community relationships formed by its members.So for me the content is critical. Without content to provide context relationships have no center of gravity. I really cant see how a community can endure without a common interest.The context is the content and the relationships. But for me the content is certainly not secondary.The idea of having communities of people who unite in some time bounded way without clear common interests is a mystery to me.Some of the terminology here – content, context, commenting, community, conversations – are rather slippery. So it is possible we use these terms very differently and I have just misunderstood you.
If Fred turned off comments, would this community exist? Not at all.If there were comments but no consistent identity for the participants, would this community exist. Don’t think so.If indeed friendships and real world connections didn’t develop would this have the dynamics it has. Nope.Is this discussion about Kik?We just think about this differently.BTW–this drove me to look up this ancient post I wrote when I first started hanging out here at AVC. For that I thank you as it started my day off right.Comments, Conversations and Community http://awe.sm/s53mo
I well remember reading that post of yours when it came out. :)I confess I’m still a little puzzled. It is clear to me that content and community constitute context. What I don’t understand is posts that imply content isn’t that important and that location isn’t important with time being more important than ‘place’.The reason I found Fred’s Kik post interesting is because typical messaging systems provide very little context for the message. If I send you a message the context is the time i sent it and our relationship. But unless it is in the context of some ongoing convo there is not other context. The content is the message! This is very different from comments which are invariable about underlying content. Messages have no such underlying content. And that is precisely why the Kik innovation is so interesting. Because what it is doing is providing content which serves as context. It is like sending a tweet with a photo.
Fascinating and it seems we go way back then!A lot of context one might say;)I understand your point of view and I agree mobile is interesting in that the screen space itself is so personnel, so much a contextual connection to the person.I’m going to go back and look at Kik through your thoughts above and with new eyes.Thanks!
To be continued 🙂
And ‘where’ will these communities be? They will have to have an addressable ‘location’ won’t they? You won’t be able to enter the stream just by knowing the time. I don’t get it.
Everywhere. No addressable location, because they’re ephemeral and distributed. You will discover them in your data streams (Twitter, Facebook…) and if you’re not listening at that time, you’ll miss them.Take memes for examples: where is keyboard cat? where is win-baby? I’m not sure there is a meaningful answer to that. But all of a sudden they appeared in everyone datastreams…. etc.
Hey Pete.I probably don’t go as far as Julien on this–yet.But I seriously believe that communities exist cross network, cross place at instances in time.Sure I guess you can read this as some sort of out-of-placeness experience. I read it as the possibility of networks and communities reforming around me or you on occasion be it a post or a need.
Speaking of Facebook Paper. It might run the table. Display is most elegant I’ve ever seen, photos literally scrolling in, vibrant. From what are my friends doing, and what are companies I care about doing, to now “What are categories of things I care about doing.”Amazing interface to navigate between the three. It could grow to be your Paper.
I agree it’s good but it’s still not a browser in the way that it’s coupled with the content. The ‘beauty’ of browsers is that they decouple the software from whatever it dsiplays. You use the same browser to view different contents.At this point, Paper is more like the AOL browser of 1997.
Good points on the browser. I want to think more on what you are saying.What happens if Paper adds a browser “channel” and an RSS channel so I can follow AVC and others. Will still need a browser but a lot less.re:At this point, Paper is more like the AOL browser of 1997.Couldn’t disagree more. AOL not mobile (nor was anyone else), and was not laid on top of the world’s most popular social tool.
RSS in Paper would be amazing and indeed a step in decoupling the content from app…Now for Paper being like AOL browser. Obviously there was no such thing as mobile web back then, what I wanted to highlight was the fact that it tied/coupled the content and the app, as well as there was a “gatekeeper” as to what people could view/consult with the AOL app. In the same way that Facebook gets to decide what’s show on your Paper.There was also no social web at the time… but AOL was probably one of the most visited web property at the time, like Facebook today.
Thanks for these ideas- good things to ponder.And it would be great if Facebook allows users to personalize channels. It seems they must be thinking about that.Have a great weekend!
It was on top of AOL Mail though, which was quite a popular communication service.
Ugh, multiple “browsers” inside apps. That sounds like a horrid idea and bad for the web, I hope this approach doesn’t take off. Just imagine the browserwars all over again, in 10,000 apps this time.
I think you misread my comment. Where did I say we need many multiple browsers?
Forgive me for being a little skeptical. There is indeed a difference between addressing a resource and surveying a stream, but I just don’t see the deep shift implied. As far as I can see there will always be resources we want to be able to access and we can’t do that without them have a ‘place.’ Even time based streams have to have a location. To truly change the whole way content is viewed would be to address all content by some kind of time stamp and that seems to me to be a crazy proposal. I hope I’m missing something.
Well, let me give you another example of shift that’s happening. Snapchat posts don’t have a “place” in a sense that they’re not addressable outside of the app. Yet, they have a time, symbolized by their expiration. In a way snapchats are the opposite of “permalinks”.Another example of this “disappearing” of the locaion is in the scrolls. I believe that in the early days of the web, the basic gesture to move around was the click. A click happens in a very specific place on a page (a link or a button, and will get you to a know place). Nowadays (and probably because the web is going mobile at full speed), the scroll is probably the basic gesture even before the click. The scroll does not have to happen in any specific area of the document you’re viewing: it’s *when* it happens which will determine what you’ll see next and what you’ll see next is not directly addressable in the way that url/hrefs are.[put in another way, the click is stateless, while the scroll is stateful… and state is something that’s defined by time]Of course, this is just what I think/feel/observe, and you’re perfectly right to be skeptical. It may be something too obvious to be noticed or it may be just what I want to see… but maybe that’s a pattern that you’ll be able to notice more easily in the future.
Still a lot of clicks. Might be easier to just text them and tell them to check something out, or text them a soundcloud link.
They can fix that. This is version 1.0 of the UI of a combined messenger/browser
you are correct, but I think I would expect more from a company that has operated a while compared to one out of the box.
You should always do development in iterations, allowing it evolve. Part of this can be letting people play with it – seeing how people play with it.
I’m with @pointsnfigures:disqus on this.iterative development is not the same as subjecting your community to ongoing beta.I actually like this one and think it works well but I’m not a believer in subjecting your audiences to broken stuff and looking at the pieces as market intel.
Afaik the entire concept of “subjecting your community to ongoing beta” came about with PC Clones in the 80’s.Prior to that things were for sure more fully fleshed out and not pushed into the channel for the users to get frustrated with and offer free feedback to the manufacturer. What a cheap way to refine your product?The half baked product got started with having techies that were willing to spend their time and not demand a good product (as a group) and later the end user who would feel it was they who was stupid so they wouldn’t complain to much. (This was totally opposite of my experience in non computer type businesses where you could never pull that type of shit).Would like to know your opinion on this.
Where is / how long until we see the ‘Kik It’ button for web sites?
that one click solution make a lot of sense
I like the idea and think it’s a great feature!.I also think it’s about time to dump the word “browser”. Maybe “information viewer” is a better description.
That’s not catchy at all…
I agree. But browser sounds like a person who wastes their time getting nothing done.
I think at this point (2014) browser is obviosly ubiquitious enough to have more attachment to the current meaning that the legacy meaning.Not only that but there are more references to the current meaning than the legacy meaning. Similar to the use of the word “principal”. In the mind of a 10 year old that’s the person in the office that you get hauled down to when you misbehave. But in the mind of a business person it has an entirely different meaning(s).
First I’m not trying to convince you to see it my way..But with the web integration of mobile apps and operating systems handling HTML and other marked up text more and more. I have to say you’re reversed on this.
Isn’t at least one meaning the same in business though? If you screw up one of the principals might call you down to their office?
Why is this such a big deal? What am I missing???
Let me know when you find out. Not being into music much I have no feel for what this means.
A revenue model.
Was referring to the artist – Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. I’m a big fan. Might not be for everybody, def for me.
testing Disqus on Firefox on Android
why, is it better / different?Test received. testing back 🙂
Love the new avatar. Also nice jacket. But what kind of hat is that? (Looks like a modified “jeff” cap).
LOL. It’s a woollen cap, more like an 8-point Gatsby cap 🙂 I have a variety of them.
very smart – the less reasons to leave your walled garden the better
This is a big deal. This is a coup. Makes me want to take a second look at Kik, a big second look.
What web browser does the app deploy? Is it the default browser that you set up in your device?
I would imagine it is the mini browser.
Looks like it.
Very cool. The thing about messaging is that a message has little context. If you want content you have to include it in the message. Otherwise the only content context is the conversation. Commenting on web content is the other way around. The content is there to provide context and then the comment is the message.This feature allows content as context for the message. I’m a big believer in this.
Fred, it has been reported that google’s customer acquisition costs are in the 25% range, with google paying a hefty premium to Apple for chrome as the default browser in the iphone/ipad. If app’s are successful at keeping users inside the app for search, do you see this as a similar revenue generator? Will google pay twice for the same bite of the apple?
you can see why Blackberry is finished
I generally hate it when apps do this. They’re trying to keep you in their world, obviously, but the result is often a sub-par browsing experience either because the in app browser isn’t as good as the real one (multiple tabs is a frequently missed feature), or because (poorly constructed) web pages don’t always render correctly in these unrecognized browsers. (Embedded videos are often a problem.)
Doesn’t seem revolutionary to me. Yes a browser feature, big deal. As long as it works for my SMM I’ll be happy.
“… only have one friend on it…” Are you sure you’re not talking about Tinder?
does chrome have an API for this?
wastes their timeSpeaking of Lancaster PA. Apparently the people behind the amber alert system think that someone several hundred miles from Lancaster would need to know about a missing child at 5am which was when the first one was broadcast. Jpg is the 2nd alert.http://www.centredaily.com/…
Amber Alert is a national system and it workedTakes into account the upside only. Not the downside of waking people up in the middle of the night. As only one example.So as another example someone could be driving, get the alert on their phone, while driving  and get distracted and cause an accident. That is a definite possibility. (Pick up phone on the seat “hey what’s that”). Not only that but the message disappears when you swipe open.Part of the reason we have so many regulations (and high taxes in my state) is that there is just a constant stream of things that are evaluated only on benefits as if there is no downside to any law or regulation. And there is always a downside. Unfortunately people just pull at the heart strings on each and every issue “if we can prevent only one death then…”. This happened separately while I was driving yesterday not sure if it was the same or a different alert.
So wait we have politicians making decisions because they don’t want to be the heavy? The reason you have to be the heavy is that people react emotionally not rationally. Not to mention they don’t care about the impact to others only about themselves. Sure if it is your own kid you want to setup a roadblock on the NJ Turnpike.Or instead of doing the right thing (for everyone, long term) they instead make a decision so they can get re-elected? Because their action won’t look good on the nightly news.As far as “tell that to the amber folks” that is one of those “death by a thousand needles” type things. I don’t have the time to mount an effective campaign against every annoying thing in the world. (Otoh if this were happening every night the group would certainly react.)When you are in the hospital having major surgery the next day let me know if you would like your surgeon woken up (or nurse) in the middle of the night for an amber alert. Or even when you are pitching your startup to a VC who is in a bad mood and you loose your chance.
Same thing with EAS on cable. My cable box switches to an analog channel, then displays a digital message every single time it receives an EAS. Problem is, I was trying to watch the local weather report to get more information on a cable channel and I was provided with the helpful information that the NWS has issued a warning for…Anyway, when HBO learns to do some simple math:# NFLX > # HBO -> HBO/IP @ $x/month