It seems that WhatsApp now has a new competitor and that is also a ‘swadeshi’ one. To know more, Patanjali Ayurved Limited, a company promoted by Baba Ramdev, has launched an instant messaging app named Kimbho as a “swadeshi” alternative to WhatsApp, the tagline of which says, ‘Ab Bharat Bolega (Now India will speak)’.
Now, that could be a good news for India, especially after Ramdev recently announced a tie-up with BSNL to provide employees of Patanjali with a special SIM card, featuring low-cost talk plans. But, this Kimbho app, which surfaced on Android and iOS very recently, has been derided as a security nightmare by well known French security researcher who is much known by his pseudonym Elliot Alderson on Twitter. In fact, the app has already been taken down from Google Play, the app marketplace for Android, though it is still available for download on the Apple App Store. While Patanjali Ayurved’s promoter Baba Ramdev has not yet revealed anything about Kimbho, his official Twitter handle has retweeted a tweet about the app’s launch.
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. #Kimbho #KimbhoApp pic.twitter.com/wLWzO6lhSR
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) May 30, 2018
According to a screenshot shared on Twitter by the security researcher going by the name Alderson (@fs0c131y), the Kimbho app stores user data in easily readable JSON syntax. In fact, he mocked the app, calling it as a “joke” and a “security disaster,” as he added that he was able to access the messages of all users. He also showed in a video how easy it was “possible to choose a security code between 0001 and 9999 and send it to the number of your choice.”
The @KimbhoApp is a copy paste of another #application. The description and the screenshots in the app stores are the same. Moreover, the #Kimbho app is making request to bolomessenger[.]com pic.twitter.com/gOKOhash5X
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) May 31, 2018
Another Twitter user has pointed out that the new app is built on another app called Bolo, and the Patanjali team did not even replace Bolo’s name with Kimbho’s at various places within the app. Even the app description found on the Kimbho listing is similar to that of Bolo, except that the names have been replaced there. As mentioned above, the app is not available on Google Play anymore, but can still be found on Apple App Store. In fact, right now, it is ranked fourth in the Social Networking category for free apps on the App Store, behind WhatsApp, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger.
Previously, SK Tijarawala, reportedly a spokesperson of Patanjali Ayurved, had announced the launch of Kimbho on Twitter. According to him, Kimbho is a Sanskrit word that means “How are you? or What’s new?” Interestingly, while the Android app was developed by Patanjali Communication, the iOS version lists Applies Inc as the developer.
अब भारत बोलेगा…!
पूज्य @yogrishiramdev @Ach_Balkrishna के मार्गदर्शन में उनके शिष्य नवदीक्षित साधुओं और राष्ट्रनिष्ठ विशेषज्ञों ने #स्वदेशी तकनीक से इजाद कर बनाया यह #KIMBHO एप#भारत #स्वाभिमान
Patanjali’s new app to challenge WhatsApp @bst_official https://t.co/hxBCbwdrnV
— tijarawala sk (@tijarawala) May 30, 2018
In fact, users who have downloaded the app are unhappy with it. One tweeted about getting server errors, while another said even the messages were not being delivered. On the App Store reviews for Kimbho, users have also stated that the app shows ‘Connecting’ for long periods, not allowing them to send messages to contacts. The calling option doesn’t seem to be working either, and users have stated that there is no option to sign out of the app.
To this, Faisal Kawoosa, Head, New Initiatives, CyberMedia Research (CMR), tweeted, “Can #kimbho create a space dominated by @WhatsApp just on being #swadeshi So far just around 5k installations and reviews are full of issues and concerns. Nevertheless, seems Patanjali is getting serious about communications.”