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Mobile data slices into voice

The Mobility 2012 survey, conducted by World Wide Worx and First National Bank has shown that the average user’s cellphone spend on data has increased by half in the past 18 months. Spending on voice calls has dropped from 77% to 73% during the same period.

Internet demand is slicing into networks’ voice revenues as adult South African cellphone owners increasingly adjust their budgets for data use.

The Mobility 2012 research study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of First National Bank, shows that the proportion of the average user’s cellphone spend on data has increased by half in the past 18 months from 8% of budget at the end of 2010 to 12% in mid-2012.

Spending on voice has dropped from 77% to 73% in the same period precisely matching the difference in data spend. Meanwhile, SMS spend remains steady at 12%, and full music tracks feature for the first time taking up 1% of the average spend on a cellphone.

‚”Spend on data is a barometer for the rapid increase both in the number of Internet users in South Africa and in the intensity with which experienced users engage with the Internet,‚” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

The biggest increases in specific uses of data on the phone were seen in instant messaging services, with more than a fivefold increase in the proportion of BBM users in the past 18 months from 3% to 17% of adult cellphone users living in cities and towns and WhatsApp emerging from nowhere to claim a quarter of adult cellphone users.

Browsing on the phone also increased substantially, from 33% to 41% of users, app downloads rose from 13% of users to 24%, while Facebook use rose by more than half, from 22% to 38%.

‚”The findings represent powerful backing for our strategy of providing banking services across new channels and platforms like FNB.Mobi, Facebook and the apps environment,‚” says Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO, FNB Cellphone Banking. ‚”We’re keeping our fingers on the pulse of these rapid changes, and will expand and refine our offerings as the market’s use of these tools changes.‚”

Proportionally, the biggest growth after BBM was seen in the Twitter user base, which rose from 6% to 12% of adult cellphone owners.

‚”This is only the beginning: the social networking genie is out of the bottle,‚” says Goldstuck, ‚”Businesses have to recognise the trend, and begin developing strategies to address it.‚”

The Mobility 2012 project comprises two reports, namely The Mobile Consumer in SA 2012, comprising cellphone usage and banking trends, and The Mobile Internet in SA 2012, exploring online and data trends. It is based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of South African adult cellphone users living in cities and towns, conducted in June 2012.

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Phone with 60-day battery

Mi-Fone has announced an affordable smartphone that it says offers up to 60 days of battery life when in standby mode.

Many Africans want to access the Internet but cannot afford a smartphone. In addition, the greatest challenge experienced with smartphone users is that the battery runs out quickly.

In a bid to provide solutions to these challenges, Mi-Fone the first African mobile devices brand has launched the Mi3000 model. This is Africa’s first smart phone with a 60-day battery standby time and using EDGE connectivity.

The Mi 3000 handset boasts a candy bar design with a 2.8‚” touch screen and keypad. Just like all other Mi-Fone handsets, the Mi 3000 also comes with Mi-Apps with some free content that can be downloaded, and Opera Mini as default browser. Other features include a phone directory to store up to 1 000 contacts, 1GB of on-board memory and 256MB RAM.

Commenting on the new entrant in the market, Mi-Fone CEO Alpesh Patel said that the Mi 3000 has the upper hand of long battery life, which is one of the greatest challenges for most competing brands.

‚”A lot of consumers are using their device to access the Internet and resource hungry applications, which in tern quickly drains the battery. The Mi 3000 addresses these concerns in a cost effective manner.‚”

Mi-Fone has already differentiated itself from other low-cost handset manufacturers with its focus on music, local talent and its new ‚”Mi-Apps Java‚” store. This will be instrumental in linking the acquisition of local music in capturing revenue streams, which are often lost to piracy.

The Mi 3000 also comes packed with a list of additional features including a 2.75GHz processor, dual-SIM support, a 2MP camera and Bluetooth connectivity.


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Airtime for apps

Vodacom and Research In Motion have announced that Vodacom customers in South Africa can buy apps on the BlackBerry App World by charging the transaction to their contract or prepaid account.

The new billing service will enable Vodacom customers to buy apps with a seamless experience. Vodacom customers will also be offered the flexibility of charging in-app purchases to their regular bill or deducting the costs from their prepaid account, which allows digital goods to be purchased without interrupting the app experience.

‚”We have worked closely with RIM to make this functionality available for our BlackBerry smartphone customers. Once again, Vodacom is improving the customer experience by unlocking the power of its network and services,‚” said Prins Mhlanga, Managing Executive of Vodacom Digital Media.

‚”We’re delighted that Vodacom’s BlackBerry smartphone customers will be able to purchase apps on BlackBerry App World and conveniently charge them to their regular phone bill from Vodacom. By working closely with Vodacom, we are able to offer customers easier access to tens of thousands of apps ranging from productivity to entertainment,‚” said Bob Bose, Regional Managing Director at RIM.

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