Patanjali’s Kimbho app is back, but this time the FMCG company seems to have washed its hands off the project.
The Kimbho messenger app, which had been promoted as a Swadeshi version of WhatsApp, is once again live on the Play store. But now it’s been renamed as Bolo messenger, and Patanjali appears to no longer be associated with the app. After its launch last month, Kimbho had managed to amass over 1 lakh downloads in a single day. But when security researchers had pointed out bugs in the app which could’ve compromised the privacy of its users, Kimbho was taken off the Play Store.
But Kimbho has now returned as Bolo Messenger, and is once again quickly racking up thousands of downloads. Bolo Messenger has pretty much the same functionality as Kimbho, allowing users to send texts, voice clips and images to each other. It’s slightly changed its logo from when it was called Kimbho, and former Google engineer Aditi Kamal, who’s the lead developer for the app, says they’ve also fixed the security flaws that had plagued Kimbho.
Bolo isn’t a complete rebranding of Kimbho — in fact, Kimbho was called Bolo before it earned the backing of Patanjali. While working in the US, Aditi Kamal had developed a messesenger called Bolo, which had met with a muted response. This year, she rebranded Bolo as Kimbho, and used Patanjali’s marketing machinery to promote the app. While the app itself didn’t carry any Patanjali branding, Patanajali’s spokesperson had then said that this app was a Swadeshi answer to WhatsApp. This had led to a blitz of publicity and media coverage for Kimbho. While lots of users had downloaded Kimbho as a result, it also put it on the radar of security researchers, most prominently French security researcher Robert Baptiste, who’s been making a name for himself for exposing security flaws in Indian companies and startups.
“This Kimbho App is a joke, next time before making press statements, hire competent developers,” he’d then tweeted in a scathing rebuke of Kimbho, claiming he was able to access the messages sent by all users. Kimbho was then taken off the Play Store, and Patanjali had later claimed that it was only a beta release, and a full-fledged release would be soon around the corner.
But it appears that Patanjali and Aditi Kamal have fallen out since. Patanjali has said that Bolo is not its official app, and it will release a new version of Kimbho in the coming months. Kamal has clarified that she’s not working on the second iteration of the Kimbho app.
While Patanjali and Bolo appear to have gone their separate ways, Bolo is still using Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Chairman Balkrishna Acharya’s name to promote its app. Kamal tweeted that Bolo was being launched with the blessings of Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna, and is still branding itself as a Swadeshi alternative to WhatsApp.
परम पूज्य स्वामी Ramdev जी महाराज एवम् श्रद्धेय आचार्य श्री के आशीर्वाद से whatsapp का स्वदेशी विकल्प is available to download for Android – https://t.co/rk2LGnV95L
मै आप सब के सहयोग की आभारी हूँ. Thank you for staying with us and supporting Swadesi app.
Ab Bharat Bolega!
— Aditi Kamal (@KamalAditi) July 13, 2018
And thus far, Bolo’s second incarnation is getting users just like before. It’s currently rated at 4.1, and many recent Google reviews rave about how users are happy to have a homegrown alternative to WhatsApp. While it’s too early to say how Bolo will fare — it might also have to contend with Kimbho when its launched — its ratings and thousands of downloads show that there’s certainly a market out there for a messenger app that’s made in India.