Facebook, Twitter 'no threat' to Mxit

Cape Town - Facebook and Twitter do not represent much of a threat to Mxit, despite the international following of the former, Mxit insisted.

"Social media is not a zero-sum game. There can be multiple winners and ultimately we are all competing for attention and loyalty. The main way we are going to compete is to listen to our users and keep giving them what they want," Mxit chief product officer Vincent Maher told News24.

He said that the social network developed in Stellenbosch has a loyal following and the company on Tuesday announced a renewed focus on smartphones.

"Our user-base of 6.5 million in South Africa has been loyal for many years now because we keep finding new ways to make chat fun and data-light, which is what they have been asking for."

The company can't compete with the nearly billion users on Facebook, nor the 140 million on Twitter, but the company is focused on providing key experiences that it hopes will build user loyalty and engagement.


Mxit 7 has been designed for both feature phones and will also launch on the iPhone and iPad on 15 November as the company looks to capitalise on the increasing share of the smart devices in South Africa.

Support for Android and BlackBerry phones will follow within weeks and the company will roll out a dedicated platform for Windows Phone in early 2014.

Maher said that text based conversation was still the centre of the social media network, and the new platform builds on engagement with multiple chat.

"Conversation has always been at the centre of social media for young people but, as the technology evolves, it's becoming richer and more than just text.

"Our numbers show that the most engagement happens when two people or a group get involved in a conversation. In this way social media is becoming more similar to our day-to-day lives as the focus shifts back to conversations," he said.

Maher hinted that Mxit was ambitious in expanding the network to other countries where there was data price sensitivity.

"Our target market is young people in emerging markets, so it’s happening already.  We are launching in India soon and we have a strong team on the ground in Hyderabad focused on making Mxit the best chat experience in India. Mxit 7 is available in Hindi on feature phones and we will be adding more languages over time."

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