Angus Robinson http://tech4africa.com
Below are some of our picks from what Angus Robinson highlighted in the NATIVE Mobile Report Retrospective.
Mxit's rollercoaster year
This week HumanIPO reported the retrenchments at Mxit, having previously reported the sudden departure of Chief Executive Alan Knott-Craig Jr. Robinson says it has been a rollercoaster year for “South Africa’s largest social network”.
He said: “Their numbers are still impressive and their platform is opening up to developers, but there were bigger things at play. It’s transition from the Naspers stable to the World of Avatar world was the first big news, then came the ‘we have one year to get it right’ speech from Alan Knott-Craig Jnr and the great talent acquisition when they bought Motribe.”
Robinson added: “The biggest surprise was the boardroom wrangling that ended in AKC Jnr leaving when the shareholders needed more clarity and structure in the businesses future and its path to providing a return.”
Banks and their apps
Robinson believes 2012 was a great year for South African Banks using mobile technology with the launch and success of their various banking apps.
He said: “2012 was a great year for South Africa’s banking customers with mobile banking applications being launched and enhanced mobile transactional capabilities being more broadly enjoyed. FNB’s App added a smart feature that allowed geo-fenced payments to be made to people in close proximity.”
He added: “Standard Bank and Nedbank both launched solid apps to their customer bases – with both apps being well received by the market. 2013 is going to be an interesting year in this space. Absa has been slow to respond, with a 2013 launch planned.”
Contrast of Nokia and Blackberry's fortunes in Africa vs the Rest of the World
Both Nokia and BlackBerry have had well publicised financial troubles in 2012, but both companies’ performance on the continent does not seem to have been affected by this with their continued popularity.
Robinson said: “Nokia fleeing from the Symbian platform at the beginning of 2011 and their subsequent delay in launching their Windows Phone devices has meant that they have slid out of the top six smartphone manufacturers, however, they still dominate the feature phone market – especially in Africa and South Africa. Nokia maintains a 50% market share in South Africa.
“Similarly, Blackberry has taken a pounding internationally with its operating system not being comparable to Android and iOS, however, the much-anticipated launch of Blackberry 10 in early 2013 may change this. In contrast to this, Blackberry has had an exceptional year in South Africa with its market share growing from 4% to 18%.”
Africa's mobile explosion
It also goes without saying that Africa as a whole is a “mobile first” continent and mobile based solutions are being adopted at a faster rate than their PC or tablet based counterparts.
Robinson said: “It is no secret that increased mobile penetration has made a major difference to African economies, small businesses, and to the lives of nearly 500 million Africans who now have mobile connectivity. There has been a lot of focus on this change in 2012, which is probably best reflected in this video by the Praekelt Foundation.”
He believes there will be a move towards low cost smartphones and added: “Africa is now the next big market for smartphones, with Google’s Ideos – a US$80 Android-powered Huawei-built phone, proving highly popular in East Africa. Nokia has over 60% of the total handset market share in Africa, but have been slow to release their Asha range of low to mid-level smartphones. It’s going to be an Android continent if Asha doesn’t arrive in large numbers, soon.”