Tomorrow, I am training a team of loyal drug counsellors from Impact Direct Ministries on how to use blogging to get themselves onto television, radio, newspapers or magazines – all things I have done because of my blogging. They are learning fast and furiously about technology from Marlon Parker, senior lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Marlon is a Ph.D candidate who is doing his thesis on how technology can be used for social change and conflict management.
Marlon Parker personally trains recovered and reformed drug addicts from the Cape Flats on how to use technology like MXit to do a form of peer-counselling using South Africa’s #1 cellphone-based IM and social network. After meeting Brent Williams, one of the drug counsellors, who came to 3rd annual Digital Citizen Indaba and Highway Africa this year, I resolved to use all the resource to assist them.
Marlon Parker’s work is ground breaking in a global sense. However, the facts speak for themselves because he is doing this with ZERO budget! Yes, he is doing this with sheer willpower and determinations and no corporate or government funding! He is doing what the MXit (Pty) Ltd even with allmighty Naspers Ltd behind it, has not been able to deliver after two years of promises. This MXit/Facebook/cellphone-based online counselling project is helping hundreds of children from the Western Cape to find their way on their own personal hero’s journey.
With your assistance we can reach half of the approximately 9 million users by 2010. The more children we help, the more families we assist, the stronger the communities become in self reliance and mutual aid across South Africa.
It’s been a while since I reported on the growth of MXit. And I finally found a confirmation of the current numbers from this Moneyweb article. The worldwide growth has now reached 7.5 million users with 6.5 million in South Africa. And that means 1 million international users. This is 43 million off from their stated goal of 50 million users by the end of 2008. However, their new general manager, Paul Stemmet, believes they have cracked the code of what works with its teenage users.
What is really surprising is that 60% of MXit users are now aged 18-25 years old. Not long ago (1 year) this segment accounted for 30% of MXit users, while 12-18 year olds accounted for 33% of total users. So there is now a marked shift to older users. And this demographic overlaps much more with Facebook users demographic. However, it should be noted Facebook still has less than 1 million users in South Africa.
Anyway so what does this mean for parents? Well the obvious things to note is that MXit is continuing to grow at a healthy rate, easily between 10,000 to 15,000 users per day. So even with 10,000 new users per day MXit will be touching the 10 million mark by December. You know it is a given that cellphone usage, SMS messages and MXit usage spikes over the holidays as society embraces the Christmas spirit. So its a given that MXit will crack that magical number. And once they reach the double digits I believe that will open the flood gates even further for adoption.
I have said in the past that Vodacom’s The Grid and MTN’s NokNok are poor imitations, even though I have not used either. It’s simply this fact – they launched long after MXit became the de-facto chat application used by the masses. And they are simply playing catch-up with a smaller, leaner and meaner company.
However, MXit has long planned a clothing line, which goes against all the best branding strategies I have learned from Al and Laura Ries. The clothing line is what’s called a line extension and is bound to be popular initially and later on die down. This is a distraction from the core focus of the company. And if they do not partner with a specialist on this project it is doomed before they print the first t-shirt.
Parent’s and teachers need to pay careful attention to the growth of MXit users because it means that the likelihood for cyber bullying, abuse and addiction grows. The best way to combat this is through setting boundaries at home, offering guidelines to children and working with teachers and their schools to reinforce good online etiquette from the earliest ages when they first are given cellphones. The biggest elements missing in school computer curriculum’s is a combination of online safety and online etiquette.
** MXit has already reached 6 million by beginning 2008. Download the Parents Guide to MXit from this link. **
Its now official MXit has broken through 3 million users. This is really a phenomenal success for a South African born and bred company. The purchase by Naspers of 30% in MXit Lifestyle (Pty) Ltd, will accelerate the roll out internationally. Herman Heunis, CEO of MXit Lifestyle, says they are still growing at between 9,000 and 12,000 users per day. And I still think it may be higher.
Anyway at this growth rate MXit will hit 4 million by April. As you can imagine this growth means that the amount of abuse, addiction associated with it will grow as well. And I’d like to remind you that at the low end that about 3% and its more likely to be about 6-9% of all users have some form of addiction. Which puts the range between 90,000 and 270,000 users.
You may also want to read this interview with Herman Heunis on Moneyweb on 26 January 2007. Please post your comment on this and let me know how you feel about MXit’s business success?