Kik opens bot shop, promises world+dog access to teen market

'Every bot on Kik should have the potential to improve people's lives' says company

Kik, the company behind the eponymous teen messaging platform, has kicked open its doors for bot developers.

The Canadian company has launched its bot shop, which has three categories – entertainment, lifestyle, and games – and 16 bots currently available.

Developers are encouraged to submit more bots for the messenger app, which is selling the opportunity to developers to “build, grow, and (soon) monetize for a highly engaged teen audience” which Kik reckons includes about 40 per cent of US teens.

However, despite selling the service on providing access to teens, Kik has included in its guidelines the warning that it will “block bots that target anyone under 13 years old, or that send content that could be considered more appealing to children in that age group than to teens or adults.”

The move comes on the heels of Kik's latest gift to the developer community: indirectly causing the toppling of thousands of JavaScript products in March, after it demanded the renaming of an NPM module which had been titled Kik.

When author Azer Koçulu unpublished more than 250 of his modules in response to the renaming request, he also managed to bork JavaScript's left-pad dependency, with epically chaotic results – at least for a short while.

The company's bot shop has been launched alongside a small stampede of bot-obsessed businesses who are hoping to silo users' activities within apps – where their data can be collected – rather than let them use their operating system as a platform for their whatevops.

Kik wrote it believes that “bots are the next step in the evolution of the Internet. First, there was the desktop browser, connecting people to the worldwide web through an easy-to-understand graphical interface. Then, there were smartphone apps, that unlocked the power of Internet-connected mobile computing.”

Now, according to Kik, it is chat bots that “have the potential to revolutionize the way we connect with people, services, and things” as there is “no need to download a new app, no need to go through a new registration process, and no new interface to learn. You just chat.”

This was not quite the case for Microsoft's neo-Nazi chatbot Tay, which attempted to simulate exactly the teen market Kik is offering access to. “i'm smoking kush infront the police”, was one of Tay's later announcements, as well as various other unrepeatable slurs about Jews and praise for the Third Reich.

“Every bot on Kik should have the potential to improve people's lives,” the company announced. Current apps include an H&M “outfit inspiration” app, a “makeoverbot”, and a Celeb Quizzes gossip bot from a teen entertainment magazine. ®

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