An African messaging app could beat out WhatsApp, Line and WeChat in India
Monday, February 3, 2014
This is what 21st century globalization looks like: Mxit, an African company has just announced its intention to enter the Indian market, taking on established players from the US and newer contenders from China and Japan. Mxit makes a popular mobile messaging app and claims 7.4 million monthly active users, with just under a million of those outside South Africa. Some 35 million Indians use WhatsApp and 10 million use the Japanese app Line. China’s WeChat doesn’t disclose country figures but it also appears to be popular based on anecdotal evidence.
So what does a minnow like Mxit have that makes it so confident it can crack India? The answer is simple: a vision beyond smartphones. Unlike its bigger, richer, more established competitors, Mxit offers connectivity to old fashioned “feature phones,” of which there remain many users in India. In the third quarter of 2013, the most recent for which figures are available, over 80% of phones shipped were feature phones. This is changing—some 225 million smartphones are expected to be sold in India this year— but feature phones still dominate both sales and usage.