Skype Qik, Microsoft’s attempt at spinning off video messaging into a simplified mobile application, is shutting down. The app was first introduced in fall 2014 to serve a different audience than the larger, more fully-featured, Skype application. Instead of offering real-time chat, screen sharing and audio and video calling, Qik was designed only for asynchronous video messaging.
The Qik app was the team’s re-imagining of the Skype experience if Skype had been built for mobile first, the company said at the time of its debut. And while the app shared its name with the mobile video startup Skype acquired back in 2011, the technologies were completely different. The older version of Qik was about live streaming – a sort of proto-Periscope, if you will. The 2014 application was built from the ground-up with all new code and a unique purpose.
With Qik, users could communicate with their friends and family by quickly (get it?) sending video messages. You’d press a button, record your short video, then hit send. As you communicated back and forth with a recipient, a history of your video responses were saved at the bottom of the screen as rounded profile icons in chronological order. That allowed you to re-play past videos, but only up to a point – after 8 messages sent and received, the older ones would disappear. That feature was a nod to the growing trend of ephemerality in social apps, made popular by Snapchat.
However, according to a post on the Skype Developers’ blog, many of the ideas from Qik have now made their way over to Skype’s main application – including video messaging. Skype has also introduced fun features, like filters, to make messaging more personal, as well as other tools for communicating with groups – like group video calls on mobile.
Because Skype now supports Qik’s core functionality, the Qik app is being shut down.
Of course, what Skype also hints at in its blog post is that the Qik app bombed. When referring to how Qik was designed to help users share moments with friends, the Skype team writes:
“Since [Qik’s launch], we have learned that many of you are already doing these things in Skype, and as a result, we migrated some of Qik’s most used features into the Skype app you already know and love.”
In other words, Qik did not gain traction. Skype’s user base stuck with Skype. According to App Annie, Qik’s current ranking is #350 in the Social Networking category on the iOS App Store, and #239 in the Communications category on Google Play. It’s practically invisible.
The Qik app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone will no longer be available after March 24, 2016, says Skype. The company is now urging users to save their important messages before that date.