Significance of Text Messaging:
Call it an addiction or a necessity, text messaging today is dominating the digital world in almost all the countries. Initiated with simple text messaging, today there are innumerable styles of messaging people all across the world. Succoring this communication medium is the overpowering penetration of mobile phones, which is the topmost consumer selling electronic around the globe. These mobile phones have become the indispensable tools of the century and have completely reformed the way people communicate. Today, one can communicate with each other via text messaging, in just a click. Not just this, they can also have easy access to a pool of information from anywhere, anytime.
Text messaging plays such a crucial role in today’s life that majority of the businesses, political parties, educational institutions and many other sectors are immensely dependent on text messaging for the subsistence of their businesses. Text messaging has also been the driving force behind countless technology-based revolutions in the field of politics, commerce, crime etc. Witnessing the grave importance and need of text messaging platforms in today’s world, there have been multitudinous text messaging apps and platforms introduced today for Android, iOS and other platforms. Some of the popular and majorly used text messaging apps include; WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Evolve SMS, Hoverchat, Google Messenger and more.
However, each of these text messaging apps and platforms require a set of other features in order to function. One such feature is the texting keyboard, which plays a vital role in the creation of texts. Just as there are a lot of prominent companies that have invented the text messaging apps and platforms, there are also companies that have designed exceptional text messaging keyboards. One such remarkable text messaging keyboard is the Sunnyvale, California-based Kika Emoji Keyboard. The keyboard was developed by a company known as Kika Tech, for both Android and iOS platforms.
About Kika Tech:
Founded by Bill Hu and Ric Zhou, Kika Tech has launched two of its major applications until date- Kika Emoji Keyboard and Kika Emoji Keyboard Pro. The company was founded in the year 2014 by professionals from Microsoft, Baidu and Innovation Works. Kika Tech was launched with an aim to generate resourceful and easy communication through the world. The venture envisions developing innovative technologies that help in expressing oneself via modern technology.
The term ‘Kika ’was born out of the ‘kik’ ‘kik’ sound made while texting. Kika’s keyboards on Google Play serve more than just the texting purpose. Since the motto of the company is to promote creative and easier interaction among their users, they have invented tons of emojis and GIFs to make text messaging more fun and expressive. Apart from these features, Kika Keyboard also features super-fast typing, swiping and automatic language prediction along with customization of the layout. This is followed by an open plugin platform which makes the complete task an easier one.
Talking about Kika Keyboard’s target audience, they consist of people aged between 13 to 24. This age group forms up to 60% of the app’s audience. The rest 40% of the Kika users are between the ages of 24 to 45 years, followed by senior users.
Kika Tech has global offices in regions such as India, United States, Russia and Beijing. The company is further planning to expand its center in Brazil, which is actually the second biggest market for Kika Tech. The keyboard is used in more than 140 countries with different users having different using preferences.
So far, Kika Tech has launched two keyboard versions on Google Play and iOS;
- Kika Emoji Keyboard: The keyboard can be easily downloaded for free, and is synonymous to being a universal keyboard. Until date, there are more than 20 million users of the Kika Emoji Keyboard. The keyboard is available on Google Play, Amazon, and will be obtainable on the iOS platform soon. It consists of more than 70 languages including Rumantsch and Bashkir. This keyboard is famous for being the world’s first Bashkir keyboard with the swipe feature.
- Kika Emoji Keyboard Pro: This keyboard is almost similar to the Kika Emoji Keyboard. It consists of countless number of stickers, GIFs and emoticons.
Here are some of the key features of the Kika Keyboard;
- Unlike other keyboards, the Kika Keyboard majorly functions on emojis, GIFs, stickers and themes, along with downloadable freebies.
- The keyboard has an ultra-intelligent predictive text feature that avoids a user from embarrassing typos. Furthermore, its easy swipe feature lets a user to text messages with just one hand.
- The keyboard sports more than 60 languages, including certain rare dialects.
- Although the keyboard can be downloaded free of cost, it might come with in-app purchases in future.
- Kika Keyboard was the first keyboard to support the Whatsapp skin tone emojis. However, the Kika keyboard emojis are also compatible with other texting platforms and apps.
- The keyboard sports hundreds of themes that can match anyone’s style. It also has cooler fonts and key press sounds that make the keyboard look colorful.
- The keyboard lets one to personalize their tabs and color schemes, and also has customizable layout.
- The keyboard is completely compatible with mobile phones and tablets.
- Like mentioned earlier, Kika Keyboard supports a lot of languages all over the world including, Persian, Catalan, Laos, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish and Thai among others.
- So far, there have been more than 20 million Kika keyboard users all over the world.
Kika and its Insights;
Kika Tech’s strategy is based on the mobile application platform, which fetches them a vast business via just the keyboard app. According to Nikky Wei, Head of Global Marketing and PR, Kika Tech, “Kika Emoji Keyboard is more than just a texting keyboard, as it serves an array of purposes. It is known as the next gen keyboard that consists of a ton of emojis, stickers, GIFs etc. By using our keyboard, one can easily customize the keyboard backgrounds among other things.”
Commenting on the development of the company, Nikky stated that, “We are in talks with some of the major sports clubs like NBA and others, in order to inculcate the related themes and customization. Furthermore, we are also trying to implement IT-themed content in our keyboard which will help users from the IT background to communicate easily and in a more interesting manner”.
Although the Kika Keyboard has been one of the majorly used keyboards in many countries, there are a set of developments that the company is looking forward to implement in the keyboard. Currently, Kika Tech is focusing on the advanced options of the Kika keyboard search function. The keyboard presently offers a search function in terms of searching a GIF, but very soon, the keyboard will allow its user to search anything on the keyboard, just like Google.
The next improvement by the company will be to implement the advanced search feature in the automotive segment, especially cars. Most cars such as Tesla and others do not have apt keyboard type interaction while driving. Therefore, Kika Tech is looking forward to improve this area with their exclusive keyboard options. Other major segments that the company is looking to venture in, are smart devices such as robots, precise keyboard watches and a voice message feature that allows a user to just talk rather than talk.
Talking about Kika Tech launching more products, Nikky stated that, “Yes, we are planning to launch many other products and are working on it. Our internal product team is working on new products such as recorders for now, and in near future will launch many others.” She said. “In the next three years we are also considering to launch A1 machines such as robots. This step is anticipated to let our users interact via our automotive and smart devices in a more convenient manner.”
The Kika Keyboard claims to be different from other keyboards, as it has features of a next gen keyboard. A majority of the keyboards focus mainly on just typing, and not any other feature. But the Kika keyboard lets one to not only type faster, but also auto correct the words while typing. Therefore, the keyboard comes with an advanced swipe function and auto correction feature.
The company believes that the current generation prefers more advanced and interesting things while texting, which includes faster typing and better and interesting ways to communicate. Therefore, Kika Keyboard ensures to cater to these needs of the next generation and help them in communicating in a more visual manner.
The Inspiration behind the Initiation of the App
Most novel ideas are often born out of incidents that create an impact on an individual’s life. Likewise, the initiation of the Kika Keyboard was inspired by a remarkable story between a father and a son. It was an incident that Bill experienced with his little son who often complained about Bill not giving him enough time and being too strict and harsh in terms of communication. This instance gave way to Bill’s endeavor about finding an interesting and fun-loving way to communicative with his loved ones. Bill believed that communicating with hundreds of emojis and GIFs will make the communication process more relaxed.
Before launching his own app, Bill has worked on 70 other communication products. These products not only focused on the communication sector, but also had the option of sending e-cards to the loved ones, such as Christmas wishes and more. Due to their greater potential, these apps were listed on Google Play and acquired higher ranking. This in turn led to the increased downloads of the apps, but with lower retention rates. Therefore, Bill and his team started focusing on other communication apps and continued with their experimentation.
Kika Keyboard and Its Competitors
It is very natural that every prominent product or service will have its own competitors. One of Kika Keyboard’s major competitors is the SwiftKey Keyboard, a London-based company that was purchased by Microsoft for $250 million. Another Kika Keyboard competitor is Fleksy, which was again bought by one of the prominent companies. Therefore, Kika Keyboard has today become the #1 keyboard in US and 45 other countries in terms of its rankings.
The Brains behind the Launch of Kika:
Kika Tech was co-founded by 2 talented professionals. The current strength of the company is about 140 members, including engineers and designers. These designers and engineers work on innovative emojis and other keyboard features. Currently, the keyboard has about 1600 emojis, including its signature emojis.
The Co-founders of the company:
Bill Hu, CEO and co-founder, Kika
After graduating from Cheung Kong EMBA, Bill ventured out to gain professional experience. He holds about a decade of experience in corporate management and strategic planning in the field of mobile Internet. Bill has previously worked with Hangzhou Sky Network Technology Co., Ltd., as the Vice President, and has effectively guided the firm to the NASDAQ listing, publicly. He hails from Zhejiang province, which is an entrepreneurial hub. Recently, Bill was named as China’s Top Innovator for the year 2015 by the Chinese Government Network.
Ric Zhou, Head of RD and Product, Co-founder, Kika
Ric was previously the core team member of Tiger Map and Innovation Works, where he served as a project lead for SnapPea, followed by being the technical lead for the Pudding.com project. Ric is a graduate from Peking University and holds a master’s degree in Computer Science.
The Business Module and Monetization of Kika Keyboard:
Although the Kika app can be downloaded free of cost, the company is planning to charge its users for the in-app purchases in the near future. However, currently the revenue generating factor of the company lies in the banner ads that are displayed while downloading some of the keyboard features. Some of the major revenue fetching ads are from Adwords and AdSense.
Funds Raised by Kika Tech:
Until 2016, the company has raised about $95 million from various investors. When asked about the usage of the raised funds, Nikky commented, “We are planning to use the funds for the expansion and improvement of advanced voice messaging features, along with the development of various other engines.”
- Kika Tech raised about $33 million in a Series B round of funding that was led by Cheetah Mobile and other investors including QianKunHanHai, China Prosperity Capital, and Five Stars Capital.
- Recently, the company raised another round of Series B funding of about $30.6 million from investors such as Honge Capital, Bole Zongheng, and Zhu Ye, a Chinese investor and CEO of Zeus Interactive.
The company envisions helping its users in feasible communication throughout the world. Also, in order to promote itself widely and gain increased number of users, Kika Tech is implementing various effective marketing strategies.
According to Nikky, “A really good product needs to be 2 things- first it should be frequently used, just like toothpaste, which is a daily necessity and second, it should have higher retention rate. Therefore, our keyboard possesses both the qualities.”