There has been a lot of focus on Africa as the final frontier for the world of cellphones. With first world mobile markets in the East and West having rapidly matured and the explosion of mobile services in Latin America, Africa was the last place cellular networks and handset manufactures looked to for significant growth. But recent stats released by Admob, the world's largest mobile advertiser, have shown startling statistics about Africa.
First of all, South Africa is its third biggest market, even bigger than the UK, and Africa is not far behind Western Europe in the amount of impressions its serves on the Admob network.Significant stats
Admob's stats are significant, given it works into 160 countries and serves over two billion impressions every month, of which SA generated 142 283 528 impressions in December 2008.
As a region, Western Europe served just over 200 million impressions, while Africa served over 192 million impressions.
While SA makes up 73% of Africa's impressions, the figures reinforce what we have known for some time – that Africa would be a significant market and that SA will lead the way for the continent. What corporates and publishers need to realise is that Africa has now become that significant market.
SA has 25 million subscribers, not all of which are active on the mobile web. And yet it generates more impressions for Admob than the UK, which has double the amount of subscribers. Only India (with 160 million subscribers/six times more subscribers) and the US (over 200 million subscribers/eight times the number of subscribers) serve more impressions each month.Media driving the way locally
If you look at the market locally, the media has driven the way, with publishers such as Media 24.com launching its own WAP site at http://m.24.com
. The mobile site includes portal content adapted for cellphones, including breaking news, sport, finance, motoring, entertainment news, weather etc.
The Mail & Guardian
also has a mobile site at http://m.mg.co.za
, as does IOL at http://m.iol.co.za
. On the radio front, Primedia's Highveld Stereo has http://www.highveld.mobi
, making the latest news, voice clips and information on the radio station available on people's cellphones.
Social media has also had a part to play in getting SA consumers to use their cellphones to access the Internet. Facebook has more than doubled its subscriber base in the last four months to over 577 000 people, many of which access the social networking site through http://m.facebook.com
Perhaps most importantly for the local cellphone mobile web user, Google's search page customised for viewing on the mobile phone and its Beta mobile web search option (www.google.co.za/m/
) means that South Africans can search for news, sport, weather and other information that is adapted for viewing on a cellphone.Corporates slow on the uptake
Apart from the banks, which all have cellphone banking strategies and the cellphone networks which have sites customised for mobile viewing, very few corporates are creating mobile websites for consumers.
And yet mobile websites not only allow consumers to view contact information about the company along with products and services information, but also enable consumers to send in information to the company, or log on and access personal information.
Some locally developed sites are taking it even further, giving consumers the ability to initiate purchasing decisions through a mobile site. This will soon be extended to services such as tracking packages, account balances and e-commerce.
Multimedia Solutions research for a local retailer for the development of a mobile (mobi) website found that 65% of people surveyed did not access the Internet from their cellphones and did not know what a mobi website was.Figure turned around
However, once they understood what a mobi website was and that they could access it from their phones, this figure turned around, with 65% of people saying they would use the mobi website of the retailer once it was launched.
Given the number of consumers using their cellphone to access the Internet versus those who are using a PC, corporates need to start implementing mobile strategies if they want to reach out to the wider SA population.