The South African App Market: Where Are We Now?

There are more than half a million Android apps inside the international. The i-Store, which officially garnered more than 25 billion downloads in March this yr, gives 5. Five million downloads, with extra than one hundred seventy 000 apps specially tailor-made on your iOS. If your head isn’t always spinning with the range on provide, then I’ll hit you with the truth that around three hundred 000 of these apps were uploaded inside the last three years. Talk about an industry developing overnight.

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All this has been pushed by an ever-increasing degree and availability of mobile hardware, strong running systems, and improvement gear. Given the proliferation of cell gadgets around the world (greater than eighty-five percentage of the planet is their usage), you might properly ask, has South Africa taken advantage of this new outlet for her skills and enterprise?

The answer, sadly, is mixed. South Africa has had a few exquisite benefits while in comparison with its peers on the continent. Unfortunately, we have a track record of sitting on our laurels. We have managed to drop, or as a minimum fumble, the ball on the subject of troubles like youth improvement, the introduction of sustainable alternative energies, and the improvement of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

So one may well ask are we going to miss the boat on the App growth too? It’s now not that I’m pronouncing we are completely useless; it’s extra a case of failing to seize opportunities. South Africa must be proper and be one of the strongest players on the continent but allow us to examine what we’ve carried out with our opportunities.

At the turn of this century, we had one of the exceptional telecommunications infrastructures on the continent; however, now our line speeds and records costs are falling ways in the back of the relaxation of Africa. In 2012 our Internet penetration was less than 14 percentage which places us ahead of the African common of thirteen.5% but well at the back of countries like Kenya (25%), Nigeria (29%), or Morocco (forty-nine %). We are above average, sure, however here’s my factor: while you do not forget our capability, is ideal enough all we have to be aiming for?

Our negative performance when it comes to training and communications infrastructure is probably the unmarried largest stumbling block in this united states’ improvement. Certainly, it’s far a major element in our lagging behind the rest of the sector about taking advantage of the app marketplace. Here we have a profit-producing industry that absolutely everyone needs to be capable of entering, everywhere and anytime. We are choking ourselves with old-line speeds and exorbitant costs for bandwidth.

Everyone can see how the e-tolling device will be horrific for commercial enterprises and commuters. With that in mind, wouldn’t it really wonder everybody to hear that a recent have a look carried out for the Business Software Alliance located us 18th out of 24 international locations in our readiness for cloud computing? The report cited our low tiers of Internet penetration and coffee tiers of records and communications era as a hassle. Also, it said that there is a desire to be higher making plans for the growth of our excessive-speed networks (we are currently lagging in the back of India on this branch). Above all, we’re going to want to make the Web faster and more low priced if we’re going for you to compete internationally.

With a rather confined infrastructure and fees, which might still be prohibitive for many, the penetration of apps is glaringly far at the back of what it must be, but it is no longer all awful news. While we’ve got a way to go in ensuring that our countrymen and women get into the habit of downloading apps, in company terms, we are, in reality, now not to date behind the curve. As Richard Cheery of Afrozaar Apps puts it, “We surely do comply with international locations like the US, South Korea and the EU on the subject of popular patron new-media apps. However, I accept as true with our corporate and enterprise-to-commercial enterprise app paradigm is not that ways in the back of.” Indeed in certain industries like banking, South Africa is an international chief when you consider that we are regularly used to piloting and checking out commercial enterprise software programs and structures.

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On the complete, even though we are nevertheless suffering from broadening a culture of app use for the common South African. We are all acquainted with some of the biggies like Facebook. However, there remains an untapped market for apps designed for the nearby marketplace. You’ve got to invite why extra of this kind of app isn’t always being created. It can not be said that South Africa absolutely lacks in ability or creativity. Indeed the research organization Gartner rated us as one of the pinnacle 30 software-developing locations returned in 2008.

The query is, what have we finished with our ability? Are we letting some other opportunities slip by way of? In 2009 the ITC ranked us first within the sub-categories of ICT security, cyber-, intellectual-belongings rights’ laws, and offerings to a gross domestic product. We got here in 1/3 common as an outsourcing destination, which best shows my point that we have the expertise and know-how in certain areas. However, we are often let down by way of permitting ourselves to lag in others. This numerous degree of competence and best appears to mean that in preference to arising with a cohesive plan for a way we can enhance our ICT and harness the power of our developers, we are on the mercy of conflicting forces – every trying to appear after its very own pursuits and not using an interest within the improvement of our state’s industries as a whole.

A case in point, the extra latest ICT figures discovered that we ranked thirtieth out of 46 African nations while it got here to our cellular-statistics charges—no prizes for guessing who is letting the side down here. The bottom line is that cell-records fees need to fall if we aren’t going to overlook another possibility. The penetration of cell gadgets some distance exceeds our Internet penetration, with nearly eighty percent of South Africans possessing a cell device. As smartphones drop in rate, increasingly more humans could be using Android or iOS. That represents a big market with great potential if we can get people used to using apps. The first step to reaching that is dropping fees so that they’re now not past the method of the client.

This final point maybe a piece of a stumbling block. After all, do you need to create a web app or an app designed to be native to the tool on which it’s far run? Ideally, your app has to be capable of address both situations. Certainly, you have to layout any app or website with the restrictions of cell gadgets in thoughts. The varying levels of penetration among mobile and Internet connections make it clear that you will certainly want a mobile site for your enterprise. However, the conflicts and variations between browsers can regularly be a stumbling block, and a local app can regularly be a manner of ensuring that an app works stably and as you need it to.

If deciding to go with a native app, then the probabilities are which you need to go along with Android (until you are imparting a product that you deem greater suited to the iPhone marketplace). My thinking here comes down to the reality that value is all likelihood to be one of the largest factors in the adoption of cell devices in this us of a. Most time-honored backside-of-the-variety smartphones will likely be using one model of the Android OS or another, so it makes sense to make sure your app might be strong on Android.

While it’s far really worth noting our weaknesses, it’s miles equally crucial to renowned our strengths. For marketers, app improvement represents a sizeable possibility, and it’s far one that South Africans, and their counterparts at the rest of the continent, are seizing increasingly. As the cellular strategist and AppCircus co-founder Rudy De Waele these days commented: “Many of the African app builders we met throughout the AppCircus Africa tour closing year have been university graduates. However, the significant majority have learned to code through the Internet.

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South Africa has talented people who can and will be considerable players inside the worldwide app marketplace. They have outstanding entrepreneurial spirit and force, but lack the enterprise education and mentors needed to take their apps to the subsequent level.” February of this year noticed one in every of our own app developers, Anne Shongwe elected a finalist in the sixth annual Mobile Premier Awards in Barcelona.

We may additionally have a way to move with regards to catching up with the rest of the world in developing apps. Still, it’s far quality to see that we truly have folks who mainly represent South Africa. Hopefully, they may now not be allowed down via a loss of assist and vision.

Timothy Washington
Hardcore internetaholic. Social media nerd. General writer. Freelance travel junkie. Music practitioner. Twitter guru. Alcohol maven. In 2008 I was writing about wooden trains for fun and profit. Earned praised for my work researching fatback in Los Angeles, CA. Spent 2001-2006 lecturing about walnuts in Cuba. Earned praise for analyzing tattoos on Wall Street. Uniquely-equipped for deploying wooden horses in Jacksonville, FL. Spent a year lecturing about tar in Salisbury, MD.