Mxit spreads its wings to India

Cape Town - South African born social network Mxit is expanding its wings - to India.

On Wednesday, Mxit announced that it has launched the first phase of its Indian expansion plan.

The cellphone market in that country is similar to SA in that it is mostly prepaid and dominated y feature phones.

"Launching Mxit in India was a natural strategic next step, which allows us to continue building on the success we've had with the application in South Africa," said Mxit CEO Francois Swart.

The company says there are around half a billion feature phones in India and given that people there are price sensitive to data costs, Mxit may find traction quickly.

Mobile economy

"The application is both fast and data light allowing users with even the most basic 2G connection to benefit from an immersive social mobile chat experience, at a much lower cost than the average SMS," Mxit said.



The growth of smartphones has moved Mxit to re-imagine its service offering without marginalising its existing active user base of around seven million.

The social network is also a healthy mobile economy, with people generally spending cash in micropayments that generate an income for the company.

Arguably, expanding to India should boost the Stellenbosch company's fortunes if there is wide adoption.

But challenges remain.

The instant messaging space has become crowded with cross-platform applications like WhatsApp targeting smartphone users and BBM being available on non-BlackBerry devices.

Mxit also faces competition in developing markets from chat services like Tencent's WeChat which Naspers has launched in SA.

Censorship

In India itself, Mxit may face a head-on challenges from services like RockeTalk, which is expected to reach an estimated 20 million users of 72 million online by the end of 2014.

Facebook and Orkut also have healthy followings in India.

Swart seems undaunted by the prospect of competing in India where BlackBerry had come under scrutiny as the government wanted servers to be based in the country so that it could monitor messages.

"Expanding our emerging market footprint enables us to bring our innovative technology to the masses, making the 'smartphone' experience affordable to every consumer, regardless of the device they use," he said.

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