2go racks up 2m monthly users on Android app

By Tom Jackson, South Africa

Mobile social network 2go has announced it has achieved over two million monthly users on its Android app just over a year after its launch, which the company says disproves commonly held misconceptions about mobile technology in Africa.

Launched in 2009, 2go has 50 million registered users, over 10 million of which are active on a monthly basis, with the majority of users in Nigeria.

2go head of product Peter Lockhart said the milestone was proof the African smartphone marketplace was thriving. He said as 80 per cent of African users owned feature phones, building for these devices would still be important for several years to come, but the landscape is gradually changing due to the introduction of low-end smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.

“Though nowhere near an iPhone in terms of capacity, these low-end smartphones – sometimes retailing for less than US$50 – have radically changed the marketplace. This is why when we decided to launch a 2go smartphone app we decided to develop for Android,” he said.

“With no marketing effort behind it, the massive success of our Android app shows just how popular smartphones are in the African marketplace. Too often the common thought is that smartphones are only relevant for high-end consumers in Africa.”

Lockhart said the app’s success is due to 2go being cognizant of the realities of developing for the African marketplace.

“Our understanding of the market – price sensitive users, expensive mobile data, low bandwidth networks and a fragmented Android base – means that 2go is purpose-built for emerging markets. Our technology and ability to build technology that addresses these realities has been key to 2go for Android’s success,” he said.

Despite the limitations of these phones, users still expect the functionality of high-end smartphones.

“We therefore innovate constantly to ensure that 2go uses mobile data sparingly, is light and responsive, and delivers features expected of high-end social networking apps. Our latest version adds voice notes that enable users to send very compressed audio clips to one another – an important feature for users wanting to reduce expensive voice calls,” Lockhart said.

“While today 2go users are mostly on feature phone – which is a key differentiator for us -smartphones, especially low-end Android devices, are a critical part of 2go’s future strategy. As users migrate from their feature phones, 2go is well positioned to migrate these users to its smartphone apps.”


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