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Last throw of the dice for Mxit

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Local social network Mxit said on Friday that it is shutting down its commercial operations and donating all of its intellectual property and technology assets to independent public benefit organisation ‘The Reach Trust’, report DUNCAN ALFREDS and GARETH VAN ZYL.

Mxit reported in 2013 that its monthly active user base was 7.5 million that year. But this figure has dropped to just 1.2 million monthly active users in July 2015, according to a Mxit statement on Friday.

Mxit, in its statement, said its application would still be available to the public as a download.

But as part of the deal, Mxit chief executive Francois Swart will depart after three years in charge. Almost 30 Mxit staff will also be transferred to The Reach Trust under CEO Andrew Rudge and ex-FNB CEO Michael Jordaan, who has been the chairperson of Mxit, will not be actively involved with the operations of The Reach Trust.

As part of the change Mxit will also exit its India and Nigeria businesses.

The Reach Trust has been providing free services such as text-based counselling and education initiatives to up to 10 million people since 2012.

“Whilst Mxit overall has seen a decline in activity and engagement over the past 18 months, the use of services offered by The Reach Trust on Mxit has been stable and in many cases show an upward trend,” Swart said in the statement.

Growing competition

Mxit’s fall as a commercial service has come amid intense competition from international offerings such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

WhatsApp has over 10 million users in South Africa while Facebook has 13 million users in the country, according to recent research from World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

“We’ve seen the last throw of the Mxit dice,” Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, told Fin24 on Friday.

“The social platform that introduced South Africans to instant messaging has seen a precipitous drop at a time when most other networks have climbed,” he added.

Goldstuck further told Fin24 that Mxit’s fall in user numbers started with the emergence of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) about five years ago.

Ex-Mxit staff react

Mxit CEO Francois Swart was not available for comment on Friday but one former staff member at the company has expressed his view on the social network’s announcement.

“We were incredibly passionate about what we were doing and what Mxit meant to millions of South Africans over the years. It’s hard not to see the final shut down as a personal failure and I know many of my former colleagues feel the same way,” David Luis, former head of internal communications at Mxit, told Fin24.

He said that the company believed it was prepared for the arrival of smartphone technology.

“We were never unaware of the threat of smartphones, but I personally believe that we were totally unprepared for how soon a cheap smartphone like the (MTN) Steppa would arrive, and the degree to which it would take over the feature phone market.

“The success of those cheap smartphones I believe put Mxit – sitting without a decent version for smartphones – on a downward spiral that was impossible to come back from, despite the massive effort of the team.”

The Reach Trust, though, has expressed how it is looking forward to using Mxit’s technology with a number of education projects planned in South Africa over the next year.

More than 500 000 learners access educational apps on the platform every month, according to Mxit’s statement.

“With the power of mobile technology in the hands of almost everyone in the country, we believe that it is critical to extend and expand the access to mobile content and services to accelerate social and economic change,” said Andrew

Rudge, CEO of The Reach Trust, in a statement.

Fin24

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http://www.fin24.com/Tech/News/Last-throw-of-the-dice-for-Mxit-20151023

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Smash hits the Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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