In 2008 we saw the scales begin to tip with imports of data enabled phones being larger than that of non-data enabled phones.
In 2009 we saw the undersea cables hit East and Southern Africa in a big way.
In 2010 we saw the mobile operators get serious about data availability and cost packaging for everyday Africans.
2011 is upon us, and with it brings a new type of data-enabled mobile user in Africa. It also brings the mobile web to center stage.
Mobile web content has been defined as any internet-connected or browser-based access to the internet and as digital content connected to a database that passes through a handheld device connected to a wireless network.
Simply put, the mobile web is the same data that the web layer brings to you on a computer, just now on your phone.
What does it look like?
Here are a couple of examples:
- Consumer content such as movie times and restaurant reviews, such as Flix and EatOut.
- Consumer focused transaction sites and classifieds like Dealfish and Pigia.me.
- Content, such as news, blogs and aggregators like Afrigator.
- Business information for consumers and businesses, such as Mocality.
- Mobile-specific communities, such as Motribe, Facebook and Twitter.
- The ability to pay via mobile payment methods or credit cards, brought to you by mobile payment aggregators like PesaPal.
- Advertising done by the likes of InMobi and AdMob.
You can see that it doesn’t look all that different from it’s purely web-based counterparts. It’s the same data, just more accessible on your phone.
There are strong plays to be made in all of these fields, as there are few leaders in any country, much yet regionally… yet. The reason for that is we’re just on the front end of this sea change, so even the leaders only have a very small slice of the pie.
While there will always be a place for client-focused mobile applications (Android, iPhone, Ovi, etc.), there is just too much friction there to scale. Friction for the developers who build the applications, and friction for the users who need the “right” phone to access the apps.