June 5, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Qik has the world at its finger tips. The personal video streaming service has a dream opportunity that most start-ups would kill for: pre-installation on what could prove to be the year’s best-selling Android phone, and a chance to expand its user base by tens of thousands within a few days of Sprint releasing the HTC EVO 4G.
The world at its fingertips, Qik is dropping the ball.
When I fired up the HTC EVO 4G for the first time on May 20, Qik was still running the same version of the software available on the Android Market. Rather than publish the new version of the app that takes advantage of the EVO’s front-facing camera, Qik waited to push the button and watched from the sidelines as Fring swooped in to steal its thunder.
While being flanked by Fring was a regretful but understandable error, what happened next was a major oversight. When the HTC EVO 4G officially launched on June 4, Qik wasn’t even in the Android Market. Though Qik published an update to include the latest version of its software, the app remained invisible to EVO users, the only phone capable of using those new features. The company was seemingly unaware that new Android phones are often unable to see certain apps in the Android Market when first launched. Because Qik waited until launch day to release the new update, it could not fix the problem in time to address the thousands of users who all had the same question: How the heck do I get the video chat to work?
Why Qik chose to wait to publish the update despite having 5,000 Google I/O attendees who could have served as a de facto beta testing group is perplexing. Qik could have posted the new update on Tuesday or Wednesday and had more time to fix the problem before regular consumers used it for the first time, got confused, and quit. Instead, the company waited until a day when the EVO’s launch would grab all headlines and the first impression of their product would be an outdated version of the software that didn’t do any of the highly-touted features Sprint promised.
I think Qik has the potential to be a great product but they’ve bungled a golden opportunity to make a huge splash on the EVO. It’s still early enough for a quick recovery, however. Qik has a blog post indicating that Google has identified the problem, but the app is still not available in the Android Market on my phone or anyone I know who bought an EVO.
UPDATE: The new Qik application was momentarily placed in the Android Market Saturday morning. I downloaded what looks like a brand new app that still didn’t include video chat support. Then, another version was added to the market, but Qik unpublished both apps in order to address server issues. Bad form, Qik.
The HTC EVO will probably sell more than 100,000 units the first week by my unfounded and completely unscientific estimates; Qik needs to hurry and fix its issues if it’s to have any chance of making a good first impression and inspire people to upgrade to premium services.