Archive for Mobile from South Africa

The mobile trap

by on March 16, 2009 at 5:31 am

Much has been written on how big the mobile audience is, and how it offers an opportunity to appeal to a mass audience. Even better, it’s an environment where consumers will more readily pay via micro-payments for “Freemium Services“. It’s a dream come true. Or is it?
But here’s the challenge: There are, so to speak, […]

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SA bank claims 1-million mobile phone banking users

by on March 2, 2009 at 3:17 am

Absa, the country’s largest retail bank, says it’s one of the first banks in the world to notch up a million cellphone banking customers, prompting it to call “2009 the year for Cellphone Banking”.
It was the first South African bank to introduce Cellphone Banking services in the year 2000. Absa says that over the last […]

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Amazing keyboardless laptop introduced by Apple

by on February 16, 2009 at 6:42 am

tags: apple, Mac, onion

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YFM create iPhone app

by on February 12, 2009 at 7:24 am

Just got a release from YFM, a Joburg radio station, that says its “the first radio station in Africa and among the first in the world” to release a custom application for the iPhone. (By “among first in the world” I presume they mean amongst radio stations.)
This is due to the influence of its CEO […]

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Mobile, social media & what’s next

by on January 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Here are some answers to questions in a recent Moneyweb interview Mandy De Waal did with me a while back.
1. What role does social media play in’s strategy?
Social media plays a key role in’s strategic thinking. Internationally, it’s the social media sites like You Tube and Facebook that are dominating the web rankings […]

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The GRID and South Africa’s First Mobile Documentary

by on November 30, 2008 at 10:59 pm

As if staying at the Rosebank Hotel didn’t already completely spoil us, we began our blogger’s road show of South Africa with a box full of gadget goodness thanks to the kind folks at Vodacom. Included in the bag was a Vodafone E172 Mobile Broadband USB Stick with enough 3G data to keep us publishing blog posts and uploading photos and videos from the road wherever we may be. We were also given the new Samsung G810, a mean mobile media monster which will let me upload photos and videos directly to Flickr within seconds of taking them. The phones come pre-loaded with a small piece of Java software called The GRID, which I first saw on Vincent Maher’s blog a few weeks ago.

The mobile program automatically detects your location and allows you to upload text, photos, and videos which are then displayed on a map along with all the other user-generated content around you. In this way it is very similar to Brightkite’s iPhone application. Here in South Africa iPhones are rare, but lots of phones are able to install java apps like The GRID. The GRID also allows video uploads which are not yet permitted on iPhones.

What really has me excited about The GRID is a project they did with youth living in Soweto, South Africa’s largest township. The youth were given phones and asked to upload multimedia content about their communities. There is now a wealth of content about Soweto on The GRID and more than 20 mobile documentaries have been made. It is exactly the kind of project we like to support at Rising Voices. Here’s a trailer:

What has me excited about this new Samsung G810 is that it means that in a couple hours I can give Frerieke my Nokia N95 so that she can give it to one of her Afrigadget Mobile Reporters. I was given my N95 by the good people at Pop!Tech and I know they’ll be pleased that it will be used for such a worthy cause. And if you’re not reading Afrigadget you’re missing out.

Upcoming: Tech Blogging from South Africa

by on November 26, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Upcoming: Tech Blogging from South Africa

I’m leaving for south Africa for a tech blogging tour. I’ll be posting from there and you can come back to this site shortly to see what I’m up to. In the meantime, here are a few tech facts:

  • Mobile calls in and out are $1.49/mn (T-Mobile)
  • Unlimited BlackBerry email: $20
  • mobile browsing: $15/MB
  • Getting charged $1.49/mn for incoming calls, even when I don’t answer: priceless. (I’m serious)

Let’s see if I get charged when using unlicensed mobile access (UMA) over WIFI. I get conflicting answers from T-Mobile reps.

Mobile surpasses traditional web in South Africa

by on November 19, 2008 at 2:09 pm

It’s what we predicted would happen. In fact it’s what we thought had happened sometime ago, but here are some authoritative figures that confirm it.
According to a piece in Bizcommunity, Rick Joubert of Vodafone estimates there are now at least 9,5-million mobile wap users (read: mobile web) in the country. These are combined user figures […]

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Data shows US mobile data usage ready to pass the UK

by on August 26, 2008 at 6:43 am

Before long, the United States may become the world’s top user of the web on mobile devices, according to analytics and billing firm Bango. The company is releasing figures this morning showing the US at almost 19 percent of the world total, just short of the top country, the United Kingdom, which has about 19.4 percent.

In terms of absolute growth in each country, the US is growing much more quickly than the UK, so it should be surpassing its old colonial master in yet one more area soon. Bango estimates that might happen within several weeks, as the trend picks up pace in the States.

Mobile data is difficult to gather, and the numbers often aren’t dead-on. The indicators seem clear, though: Customers in the US are finally getting good options for using the web, from handsets like the iPhone, to better unlimited data plans, to the roll-out of better third generation networks.

Bango’s numbers also corroborate data released earlier this year, including Google’s report that mobile web usage of its sites is increasing.

The question left unanswered is where the usage ceiling lies for the US. While the UK has long been considered a fairly mature market, having had options for browsing available for years, the US has been behind in the race. Now that the technology is catching up, its larger population should make it easy for it to draw ahead, but it’s difficult to tell from this point how far mobile usage will penetrate into non-premium markets.

It seems reasonable to assume, however, that devices will continue to innovate (or copycat, as with the Instinct, Samsung’s version of the iPhone), and prices for both devices and data will edge down as carriers compete. Applications and services also tie in; for more on how they’re helping expand mobile web usage, check out our article on five trends driving the mobile web.

In case it’s of interest, here are the runners-up that Bango listed: India had almost 11 percent of total usage, South Africa was approaching 9 percent, and Indonesia had 4 percent.

Blogging South African Innovation

by on July 17, 2008 at 3:40 pm

The Brand South Africa team is planning to bring a group of top US bloggers to SA in November.  The idea is to have them blog about what South Africans are doing that’s exciting, cutting-edge and not being done anywhere else. We’re looking for examples of innovation and creative problem-solving in areas such as energy, conservation, health, mining, transport, crime fighting, IT and mobile telephony. We won’t have unlimited time, so the less of it has to be spent in conference rooms watching Powerpoints the better. What we want to do is get the blogosphere buzzing at the great stuff that’s going on here but which isn’t necessarily making the headlines. Suggestions, please.


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