This may not be a very objective post due to vested interest…but what the heck, this is how this feels right now. There has been talk of a Safaricom led appstore initiative which may have caused quite a buzz in the local developer community, but reports confirm that it is still premature and therefore excitement is not warranted.
Now before you read any further check this out – its Safaricom’s Policy on Unsolicited Ideas and smile.
In the past week or so, if you live online you will have realized that Mxit, the social chat application from South Africa made its debut on the Safaricom portal and today my gut feeling was confirmed with the appearance in the press of Safaricom adverts pushing the Mxit platform.
MXit (pronounced “mix it”) is a free instant messaging software application developed by MXit Lifestyle in South Africa that runs on GPRS/3G mobile phones and on PCs. It allows the user to send and receive one-on-one text and multimedia messages to and from other users, as well as in general chat rooms. MXit also supports gateways to other instant messaging platforms such as MSN Messenger, ICQ and Google Talk. MXit does not charge for one-on-one messages though mobile operators may charge for data usage. There are also a number of pay-services, including chatrooms.
MXit has a registered userbase of over 19 million, about 20 million log-ons per day and over 250 million messages sent and received per day – around 35 000 messages per second during peak times.The application is distributed internationally and used by users in over 120 countries daily, but the bulk of its userbase is in South Africa and Indonesia with fast growth in 123 other countries. In January 2007, media giant Naspers acquired a 30% stake in the company for an undisclosed amount.
The issue is not that they have a partnership with Mxit or Silent Communication (of the Jibia fame – answer the phone when you cant answer the phone) but that from personal experience, local developers and companies…suffer greatly in their quest to have such partnerships. The examples I have of this are dime a dozen and I will expound on them later when I put additional thoughts on here later today.
Once upon a time I happened to meet 5 managers at the Big Green office, to showcase Sembuse, having send an NDA on the same which was rejected as they are the ones who originate the document. We were not going to demo or pitch a concept but going in with a fully tested product. Thing is we even tweaked it to work with Mpesa, scratchcards and url based billing and had a revenue model to boot. The chaps loaded the app alright and took it for a spin and by all standards were impressed. Now the talking began… no point in doing this…its business, right…so let me react differently. If was Safaricom what would I do..What are we going to do
The operators its seems will not take a second look at solutions if you are not backed by some big name brand or some serious VC funding. This conclusion is made from basic deduction. Once we requested for a url based billing implementation from an operator who I will not mention to ensure local content creation and consumption went up though our pashahabari platform but the reaction from the managers was short of outright laughter…I concluded that it stemmed from cluelessness of the possibility, but hey…this is just me.
Is there anyone out there will an easily accessibly template of engagement that provides full disclosure on how a company or entity can engage with the networks? And not some lopsided mumbojumbo…? Or do I just need to fast-track the Dubai and Sandton office setup so I can can pitch on an “international company ” platform.
That said…the innovation continues. Got a number of things coming up in collaboration with a number of devs a truly Symbiotic offering…lets see how that one goes. No one hit wonders 🙂 This time I will be extra bullish…so ready or not…seconds away….round two !
Here’s to Symbiotic Pty…locale Sandton, we build apps for Africa 🙂
Oooh, by the way Mxit, thanks for the business the other day…pamoja 🙂