Mxit’s commercial closure ‘unsurprising’

2015-10-23 13:40 - Gareth van Zyl
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World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck.

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Johannesburg - Local technology expert Arthur Goldstuck says he’s not surprised at Mxit’s commercial closure.

On Friday, Mxit announced that it is shutting down its commercial operations and donating all of its intellectual property and technology assets to independent public benefit organisation 'The Reach Trust'.

READ: Last throw of the dice for Mxit

The move comes amid Mxit’s falling user numbers in South Africa.

Mxit reported in 2013 that its monthly active user base was over six million in SA that year. However, this figure has dropped to just 1.2 million monthly active users in July 2015, according to a statement from Mxit on Friday.

Goldstuck, who is the managing director of technology research firm World Wide Worx, said he anticipated Mxit’s move to exit its commercial operations in a recent study on South Africa’s social media landscape.

“So, from our perspective it’s no surprise,” Goldstuck told Fin24.

“My question was: Is this the last throw of the Mxit dice and in effect that was what we have just seen,” Goldstuck said.

Mxit reported that it had 2.7 million monthly active users in South Africa at the end of 2014, meaning that the fall to just 1.2 million monthly users in July 2015 is dramatic, said Goldstuck.

“So, to drop in six months by more than a million - then the writing’s on the wall,” Goldstuck added.

Mxit, nevertheless, had high engagement on its service when compared to other networks, Goldstuck said.

But the social media landscaped has changed since Mxit first launched in 2005 as a feature phone app. Facebook today commands 13 million users in SA while WhatsApp has over 10 million users, according to recent research from World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

“What’s very clear is that the emphasis of social networking is now on global networks that allow people the maximum possible network of people,” said Goldstuck.

“It’s not about the number of people that they can reach as such but the fact that a large network spanning the globe gives them a greater guarantee that they’ll be able to network with almost everyone in their circle.

“You can now find anyone you want to on Facebook,” Goldstuck added.

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