The South Asian Times

18 July 2018 10:17 AM

Why Patanjali's 'Kimbho' app is such a poorly-scripted idea

By Nishant Arora

New Delhi, June 27: Yoga guru Ramdev's "swadeshi" mobile messaging app "Kimbho", that appeared briefly in May-end claiming to take on the behemoth WhatsApp, has turned out to be a poorly-crafted business idea.

Patanjali, that posted a turnover of Rs 10,561 crore ($1.6 billion) in the financial year 2017, has been retracting its statements since the launch -- first asking people to download the app from Google Play Store, then blaming extremely high traffic for its sudden death, later claiming it was just a one-day test and now asking for two more months for its relaunch.

The app disappeared from Google Play Store within a day of its launch on May 31 over security and performance concerns, leaving the country's tech industry in a bit of shock.|

If you visit Google Play Store today, you will find at least a dozen fake versions of "Kimbho" which is a Sanskrit word and means "How are you?" or "What's new?" -- in the form of messaging app, TV, Status and what not.

The lingering question is: What was the haste to launch an app, touted as a challenge to Facebook-owned WhatsApp that has over two billion users globally and 200 million in India?

Famous French security researcher, who goes by the name of Elliot Alderson, called "Kimbho" a security disaster on Twitter. "This @KimbhoApp is a joke, next time before making press statements, hire competent developers... If it is not clear, for the moment don't install this app," Anderson tweeted.

In general course, if it is a Beta launch or a pilot run with a select group of users, the app runs for few weeks, the R&D team refines the product, the IT people plug the security loopholes, check the traffic control systems, apply scalable Cloud-based data management solutions and only then would the company push for a full-fledged launch.

"A messaging app like WhatsApp was build and sold to Facebook at the cost of $19 billion whereas the swadeshi Kimbho's launcher Patanjali, with total net worth of nearly $2.5 billion, has zero contribution on IT solutions; hence the initiative had to flop in the first place," Anoop Mishra, one of the nation's leading social media experts, told IANS.

To run a world-class messaging app like WhatsApp requires top-of-the-line IT infrastructure.

"You need a team of Open Source experts, Cloud and content delivery network (CDN) experts, data engineers, an in-house team of core developers, API developers, user interface (UI) developers, in-house testing team and user data simulation team.

"You also need an outsourced hacking team which keeps finding the loopholes in the existing system which was completely missing in 'Kimbho' which was a poorly-scripted app," Mishra contended.

Apart from the technical and programing infrastructure, a good messaging app requires industry-best third-party tools and scalable Cloud hosting servers to handle and respond to real-time database queries of millions of users so that the app survives the inbound traffic.

To build and run a word-class messaging app requires huge investment of time, tech expertise and money -- and eventually needs 10 times more investment for handling servers, security issues and data breaches, Mishra noted.

According to Saket Modi, CEO and Co-Founder of cyber security firm Lucideus, companies nowadays are looking at products that are secure by design.

"Companies are moving from agile DevOps to agile DevSecOps, where security is now being thought of from the development phase itself," Modi told IANS.

Lucideus was responsible for security assessments for apps like BHIM, Whats App for Payments and Google Tez.

According to Faisal Kawoosa, Head, New Initiatives, CyberMedia Research (CMR), it will not be easy for "Kimbho" to create a space dominated by WhatsApp by just being "Swadeshi".

"The initial reviews are full of issues and concerns," Kawoosa said.

"Kimbho" should ideally have seen a soft launch -- without any comparison with WhatsApp -- building on the momentum while deploying scalable, agile and secure Cloud-based solutions to make it run.

Building a world-class app perhaps needs much more effort than making toiletries or food products.

Update: 27 June, 2018

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