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Kimbho’s no Bolo rip-off, Patanjali says just hired same techie who made US app

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App developer Aditi Kamal explains that US app Bolo Messenger was created by her and her husband when they were in the US. It was a startup funded by their savings.

New Delhi: Soon after Patanjali’s ‘swadeshi WhatsApp’ Kimbho was launched earlier this week, social media users began to point out its similarities with American chat app Bolo Messenger. Allegations followed that Kimbho was a Bolo rip-off.

Similarities, however, are expected as both apps were developed by the same person: Former Google techie Aditi Kamal.

Refuting the allegations that Kimbho is a rebranded version of Bolo Messenger, the Baba Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Communications said Bolo Messenger had been designed by Kamal and her techie husband Sumit Kumar for their erstwhile startup, Appdios Inc.

Kamal, too, was emphatic in her rejection of allegations that an American app had been packaged as a swadeshi offering. “If a company is made by Indians, run by Indians, and even the name of an application (Bolo) is an Indian word, there are no reasons to call it an American application,” she told ThePrint.

According to their profiles on the professional networking site LinkedIn, the couple launched Appdios in 2012.

“The startup was funded by our personal savings and never promoted in the United States. We tried several applications under the company and Bolo Messanger was one of them,” she said.

Soon after the app’s launch, Kamal said, she was selected as a team leader at Google Hangouts while Kumar started working for Apple, and they dissolved Appdios.

“…We discontinued our startup considering the conflict-of-interest clause. I wasn’t able to give ‘Bolo’ the shape I wanted to,” she added.

“Bolo, which was a basic chatting platform, registered only 5,000 downloads and was in the market for not beyond six months,” she added.

Later, after moving to India, she met Baba Ramdev with a pitch for a chatting platform. A deal was struck and she started working on developing Kimbho. “As I started designing the application for Patanjali, I gave it the code name ‘Bolo’. For the last 1.5 years, I have been working on Kimbho, but my learnings come from Bolo,” she said.

Controversies, controversies

Kimbho, explained by Ramdev’s spokesperson as a Sanskrit greeting on the lines of ‘what’s up’, has been pegged as India’s “secure” alternative to Facebook-owned WhatsApp in the wake of the recent privacy scare.

The launch of the beta version Wednesday was reportedly followed by 1.5 lakh downloads on the Google Play Store within a few hours. However, the surge reportedly led Patanjali to soon take it off the market, with the company claiming the launch was just meant to be a trial and the app wasn’t ready for the heavy traffic yet.

Hours after its launch, a French hacker known by the pseudonym Elliot Alderson alleged that the poor security framework of Kimbho had allowed him to access all the conversations on the app.

Patanjali has said the app, with some “technical issues resolved”, was up for its final launch on 21 June. The company has clarified that any version currently available for download was a fake.

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