Innovation

SMS, not apps, key to content distribution in Africa

SMS, not apps, key to content distribution in AfricaSMS and audio based distribution methods should be pivotal to content providers’ strategies today, as the time is not yet ripe for apps, according to Daniel Price of Perform Group – Gabriella Mulligan.

Speaking to Appsafrica.com at AfricaCom in Cape Town, South Africa, Price said that based on the lessons of Perform Group’s success operating Goal.com – which has 29.6 million users in Sub-Saharan Africa -, apps are not the way forward for content providers in the current market in Africa.

“If you want to make money, I’d be very wary of putting any money into an app strategy,” he said, although adding that the app market should not be totally ignored, as growth is beginning.

According to Price, despite the prevalence of smartphones growing across the continent – with Goal.com seeing 3.6 times more visitors access the site via mobile than desktop -, users in Africa are not yet comfortable with accessing the internet via their phones.

“People aren’t necessarily ready to dive into apps even though they have a smartphone,” he said.

“It’s because they’re scared.  They don’t know how much it’s going to cost them.”

Once people are comfortable with using the internet, Price says: “It’s about building people in.  It’s about going from WAP to app.”

Rather than focusing on app strategies, Price says content providers in Africa should look to established distribution methods which consumers are used to – such as SMS.  Price highlighted that 3 million users are subscribed to Goal.com’s SMS service.

“I find it irritating, to be honest, that everybody is talking about data.  Yes it’s the future, but what about now?” he asked, adding: “So let’s not forget about the ‘little guy’ [SMS]”.

“He’s not attractive.  He’s not new.  But don’t forget he’s there.”

Similarly, Price believes audio provides a big opportunity in African markets, and also allows content providers to overcome the challenge of weak literacy rates and reach out to the whole population.

“Two years ago I wasn’t a big fan of audio content.  I didn’t think it was working.  However, we’ve had phenomenal success with audio.  Again, it’s not sexy, it’s not Facebook,” Price said.
“If you come in with complicated language you’re missing out a large part of the population.”

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