Mobi Sluts, Stalking, Youth MXit-ing up – Who says IT conference are boring ! Day 2 of Mobile Web Africa

…and so we continue onto Day 2 of the Mobile Web Africa conference. If you missed Day 1 it here: Top Mobile Marketing Tips from the Gurus on Day 1 of Mobile Web Africa

Toby Shapshak Toby Shapshak

Day 2 kicks off with Toby Shapshak (Editor Stuff Magazine), setting the tone. Asking the more important question in Mobile: Are your a “Mobi Dick ?” – short sweet and to the point with the usual Toby flavour thrown in for good measure. I would have like to have Toby be one of the speakers as I am sure he has lots of value to add but unfortunately it was not to be.

Tim Bishop

Someone who wears the Mobi Slut T-shirt well is Tim Bishop (founder of Prezence).  Tim is pissed off. He is very frustrated about the lack of understanding by the so-called-experts who advise their clients on mobile strategy. They tent to throw good money at “absolute crap Mobile sites and ridiculous App”. Then the brands are surprised why its not showing any return.

Amongst many others, here are Tim’s tips for a successful Mobile experience:

  • Touch devices must allows for “Fat Fingers”. Think of having coffee in one hand and using Mobile site with the other.
  • Must have confirmation. People need confidence in what they are doing on their Mobile Journey
  • Apps must be visually appealing, without too many clicks & core functionality must be optimized not linked to website.
  • Kulula mobi site is pretty but “I cant do anything that I want. I’m mobile & can look out the window to see weather”

Consumer PanelConsumer PanelConsumer PanelConsumer Panel

Next up was a Consumer Panel – a group of mobile consumer that went an “interrogation” to establish their habits, preferences and behaviour. This could of gone very badly…luckily, it didnt and the Panel was posed various questions

Some of the key points were:

  • The youth uses their phone to connect to other people, get news, download music, pictures & “express yourself”
  • Very common for the youth tohave 2 phones. A Standard phone and an expensive second one
  • Consumers discussing Apps they have on their phone – a mix of games, blogging software (Tumblr), News (CNN), Photo sharing are common
  • Big disadvantage is that apps are not “Africanised” – they become irrelevant to the African continent as apps are based on the UK and the US
  • When asked: “Apps vs Mobi site what prefer ?” Mobi web are preferred as they were deemed faster
  • Mobile Wallets ? No one uses it at all. No one trusts them and interestingly enough as “no friends recommended it”
  • Data packages are still confusing & no one understand how data is consumed and charged – Something the Networks take note of. Maybe Cell Networks should start selling “Social Network” bundles vs. Airtime/ Data

Musa Kalenga who chaired the Panel superbly summarised as follows:”If you aren’t fast you are food, Tech comes second to kick ass strategy, Consumer don’t need you so drop blinkers & collaborate”

Dave Erasmus Dave Erasmus

Dave Erasmus (founder Cubate, UK) had taught us the art of stalking – he recalled how he managed to use various Social networks to get himself a ticket to a sold out concert. I am assuming that his intention was not for us to go out stalking any celebrities to get free stuff, but rather how Social Networks are valuable tools and if harvested correctly can yield results.

Some other points Dave made:

  • We don’t like it when people talk about us. “In the online world that is called selling our info resulting in spam” – don’t do it.
  • If you provide a company your birth date, you expect them to remember as they get to know you & grow overt time they form a relationship with you.
  • Databases are stand alone but only add real value when crossed referenced. “Work out relationships between them”
  • Context and understanding can limit what you can get out of platforms & systems.

Paul Stemnet Alan Knott-Craig Jr

The World of Avatar was represented by Paul Stemnet who plugged their Shinka Advertising system which allows for targeted ads to be placed. Importantly they understand Africa, so campaigns can be run and managed from a mobile phone.No PC need be involved.

Paul shared some insights that their internal research has conducted:

  • Research team reports that people will move to the following (in descending order): Samsung, BB, Nokia, iPhone, LG, other
  • Research reveals that: Men go towards hi-tech phones (iPhone etc) & Women go towards Blackberry.

Alan Knott-Craig Jr. (CEO MXit) ended the day by discussing MXit in his usual matter-of-fact manor. When you speak to Alan you get the distinct impression that “it is what it is” no bull, no fluff and many CEO could use his direct approach.

Alan explains that MXit is like a country. Why would they want to own everything as that means maintaining it. Rather, they provide tools for developers to build their own systems. Its a win-win. In fact, Alan explains that in MXit “everyone is incentivise to build ecosystem that allows everyone to get rich”.

The Key differentiator between MXit and other is that MXit makes money & not just from advertising. It has has communities that  are very active – MXit makes R60 mill per year out of people paying in chat rooms. So the lesson is not to assume users won’t pay for services.

Some other key shared points:

  • MXit got it start with student & kids and then followed by Indian Community in Durban
  • MXit does between 700 & 800 million messages per day leapfrogging the cell network with a handful of small servers & only 120 MXit staff
  • “Big players are coming to Africa so MXit has a chance to take them on”
  • MXit learnt lessons along the way -thing like auto changes of Avatar that cost R5 per month can “start a revolution” with users
  • MXit was used as an official voting platform for the “Table Mountain as a New World Wonder” campaign – there were 16 million votes.
  • Mxit admits doesn’t have everything like importing contacts, sharing, video etc. Lots in pipeline & partner where make sense.

So in summary of Day 2:

There are way too many companies who are providing “expert advise” to corporates and brands on Mobile. It is no wonder that when these don’t work, Mobile gets a bad reputation and deemed to be a failure.  Mobile is NOT the internet just smaller.

When the consumer panel was asked “which brand is doing Mobile right ?” there was a stunned silence. No one could point at anything. What this goes to show is that we mustn’t believe our own bull and hype. When the customer out there cant even name one single campaign – that is a worry that should be taken seriously.

Finally, a warning about Africa: even though that the Mobile revolution is happening in Africa we must not make the mistake of going into Africa with the typical “they are poor and stupid and we know everything attitude.

Whew – information overload but really great golden nuggets that every business, brand, agency should be taking seriously.  What I like about being a Consultant in this industry is that I am able to go to these events, gleam the right info for my clients and choose the right companies to develop and launch awesome Mobile products and services.

Day 3 – is coming up next in the series of the Mobile Web Africa conference feedback.

Others in this Mobile Web Africa series:


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