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Smart phones are all the rage now. Increasingly consumers are upgrading their devices and subsequently getting introduced to more variety and utility. Marketers are however still playing catch-up as marketing budgets on mobile are still relatively small compared to other engagement channels. We cannot blame them though, as the spend per brand across board has reduced and there is a perpetual fight to defend the use of a particular channel, which often times is directly proportional to goods moved or service requests received.

The biggest issue that I see, is that the metrics that need to be measured are unknown and hence it is difficult to justify spend on mobile. In a differentiated market environment, not every action directed to the consumer needs to directly translate to movement of product. This is where mobile strategy comes in, with the creation of campaign objectives, determining what qualifies as campaign success, and identifying the tools to measure these results. Continue Reading…

Reflections with Michael Joseph from Al Kags on Vimeo.

Factors  that govern the economics of service and product delivery are the same across different industries and sectors. To draw a parallel with the mobile industry and give perspective, it is said to be more expensive per unit to transport goods within Africa than it is to Europe. Poor infrastructure by way of dilapidated or nonexistent roads, railway lines with different gauges, poor logistical planning and business models have made intra Africa trade a costly nightmare. Plans to address this have been floated, with the ideas being a focused on consolidated pan-african road and rail networks.

So how does this related to uptake of local content on mobile? In the rapidly changing world of technology, mobile network operators introduced mobile data, that has seen an increase in the consumption of services brought about by increased mobile phone utility. With this increased uptake, there has also been an increase in the demand for services that rely heavily on mobile data. This  has seen all mobile network operators invest capital to own shares in the various undersea cables that connect us to the rest of the world to reduce reliance on satellite connectivity that is expensive. This initial surge by consumers on mobile data was driven by the need to access information and content which more often than not was created or resided outside the country. According to the State of the Mobile Web report released in July 2012 by Opera, the top 10 visited properties are Facebook, Google, Twitter, Waptrick, Tagged.com, Eskimi, Goal.com, BBC, Nation and Wikipedia. Of these properties, only one would be considered local, and I think differently about the social networks on the list as they would probably dominate the ranking in other countries as well . Continue Reading…

Most technology start-ups die within the first five years. Sadly, many entrepreneurs fail to re-invent their ideas and end up being overtaken by time.

Mobile Planet Ltd, a local technology company has survived for 10 years. The entrepreneurs behind it, Karanja Macharia, Nyanjiru Macharia and Kigen Kandie say it has not been a smooth ride; they had to come up with new ideas every other day.

Mobile Planet is a licensed premium-rate services provider, delivering the now popular short-code SMS service in competitions, news, entertainment, chats and ring tones. For the last decade, they have been creating customized mobile solutions that mobile networks and corporate clients use to connect with the growing number of mobile users in Africa.

One thing that ails technology start-ups is the inability to transform great innovation ideas to profitable businesses. Before 2001, Karanja who is a Computer Science graduate had tried several other software ideas, all had died as soon as they were born. Continue Reading…

The growth of the mobile industry in Africa has been nothing short of amazing, with the mobile phone becoming a defacto part of day to day life across all levels of society and innovation happening rapidly to increase its utility. One of the  pain points that individuals and corporations are trying to address is that of taking services closer to the consumer and with that comes the issue of payment for services.

Mpesa, which I consider an outlier service in respect to its runaway success in person to person mobile money transfer, is trying to add value to its service offering by going for the business end of things. This has seen larger utility companies leverage this to increase consumer satisfaction and improve on collection of revenue. In Kenya, the Mpesa service commands a 90+% share of the market, which doesn’t lend itself well to the replication that mobile network operators are trying to do across the world as the dynamics vary greatly. Continue Reading…

syndicated from: IT News Africa

Dr Pieter Streicher lends this thoughts to what the messaging space will look like in the coming year. I concur on many of the points the raises, and believ we will see the same in the East African market.

2012 is the year the electronic communications opt-in vs opt-out debate is going to come to a head, and the fallout is going to have a significant impact on both businesses and consumers. Related telecommunication regulatory decisions are going to affect both the price of SMS, as well as the amount of SMS spam consumers receive every day – directly impacting the efficacy of the medium.

So, an important year for both SMS as a channel, particularly when used as an alert service, as well as consumers and their exposure to SMS spam.

Here then are Dr Pieter predictions for 2012 in more detail: Continue Reading…

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Technology changes rapidly and many innovations are born that allow services to be run more efficiently  and at a much lower cost. Cloud computing is one such technology that has enabled numerous businesses ensure their services are up and running without the attendant high cost that infrastructure investments  would bring. By reducing the total cost of ownership, cloud technology allows services to scale on the fly, and offer better options for data portability.  However, there are some risks associated with cloud services, though they can be explained away by simple probability and cost benefit analysis.

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The Connected Kenya Summit  concluded recently Mombasa, and with the theme of  innovating for the citizen, it maked for interesting discussions, presentations and thinking. With both government and private sector engaging, it is clear that we are making headway in leveraging information technology to deliver value to the citizen.

Slowly things are coming together with the right people in the right places and tremendous good will, both in government and the private sector. The work at the directorate of e-government under the direction of Dr. Katherine Getao is particularly refreshing and it is defining the framework that will lead to what I will call the real digital revolution in Kenya, where every citizen will have access to information and services without the mental wall of understanding or steep learning curve that most technology based solutions present; where we address 18th, 19th and 20th century problems in one fell swoop. Continue Reading…

It is always interesting to hear discussions around emerging technologies or industries that seem to capture the minds of everyone; from your barber to the executive at a FMCG company. More often than not, if the discussion is based on mobile technology, a lot of assumptions are made as to who plays what role and where the opportunity lies.

At the very top of the mobile ecosystem is the regulator CCK – Communications Commission of Kenya who are in charge of issuing licenses to mobile network operators, premium rate service providers – PRSP’s and content providers. The different tiers of licensing attract varied fees with the current cost of the PRSP and content provider license standing at Ksh 100,000, on top of an application fee of Ksh.10, 000. The license fee is annual and from year two, it  is based on a percentage of revenue generated by your firm with the lower limit of Ksh.100,000. Continue Reading…