Research has shown that reading for pleasure is positively linked with literacy-related benefits such as writing ability, text comprehension and grammar. It therefore makes obvious sense to provide people with easy access to books to improve literacy and lives in Africa.
Instead of focusing on services that require devices some people cannot afford, Worldreader Mobile (WRM) is improving people’s lives by attracting millions of users across Africa to read books on devices they already own. This is a simple but important lesson new mobile services looking for mass adoption should learn from. Putting the customer first, rather than building services that they cannot afford to use (on data), or their current devices cannot handle.
WRM is a mobile e-reader and library application optimized for inexpensive mobile phones to reach children, families and adults on devices they already own. WRM is designed to work with browsers using extreme compression technology such as Opera Mini to offer a fast and data-light reading experience.
The service enables users to save books to their phones for reading when offline. With over 18,000 titles in 43 languages, the WRM library covers a spectrum of literacy, from those learning to read, to those reading to learn, to those reading for pleasure.
Partnership key to growth
Through partnership WRM has had rapid growth across the continent. With Opera Software, WRM is available as a default bookmark on Opera Mini, the world’s biggest mobile phone browser. By partnering with Mozilla Foundation, WRM became available through Firefox OS and Firefox browser for Android users via promotion within the Firefox Marketplace (Firefox OS app store). Internet.org, Facebook’s initiative to connect the “the next billion” decided to pre-install WRM into its offering of free basic services for users in South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.
Worldreader has curated over 10,000 pieces of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content helping drive education across Africa. WRM also provide access to titles about history, art, language, literature, finance and business studies. The goal is to give people access to the information they need to study and be successful in school and life.
Using web instead of fragmented mobile OS environments enables the immediate deployment of the digital book library to any internet-enabled mobile device. WRM library consist of more than 28,000 books across 70 genres and 47 languages. Since its launch in April 2015, WRM has managed to attract 2,7 million users across Africa. With its average 50,000 daily active users, making it the most popular book reading mobile application in Africa. Most recently and in just three months, WRM has enabled its users to read over 22 million pages on various topics.