Like most people I know, I have grown to love text messaging. It’s a form of communication that transcends almost everything and yet, I cannot stand the idea of paying for it. SMS rates might be the most egregious racket U.S. wireless carriers have pulled over their post-paid customers since the very beginning of mobile. They’ve already got many of us on the hook for voice and data, but they’ve managed to condition us to think that SMS is so great and so taxing on their networks that it requires a different pricing scheme. In truth, it’s one of the most network-friendly technologies in the mobile tool belt: each character in a text message essentially requires one byte of data.
Enter Kik Messenger. Not unlike the BlackBerry-exclusive BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, the chat platform allows user to communicate one-to-one without incurring additional fees. Kik offers features that are entirely lacking from SMS, including the ability to know when one of your contacts has received and read a message and when they are actively replying in real time. The service simply works as it should and it bests BBM by working across multiple devices and platforms. The startup kicked off to a fantastic start last month, logging its first million users in just 10 days. While Kik continues to grow at an astounding rate, it’s also lacking some features like photo sharing, file sharing and voice message sharing that would put it on a more level playing field with BBM. I was also bummed to see that it would let me log into the service on more than one device at a time – I actually had to completely close and log out of the app on my iPhone before the BlackBerry app would let me log in. As an avid BBM fan and user, I’m happy to finally see a great multi-device alternative to the service but it has a few improvements to make as it goes through the growing pains. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that someday soon I’ll finally be able to kill that text-messaging package from my wireless bill once and for all.