The South African App Market: Where Are We Now?


There are extra than 1/2 one million android apps within the world. The i-Store, which formally garnered more than 25 billion downloads in March this 12 months, gives 5.5 million downloads, with an extra than one hundred seventy 000 apps specially tailored to your iOS. If your head isn’t spinning with the range on offer, then I’ll hit you with the truth that around three hundred 000 of these apps were uploaded inside the final 3 years. Talk about an enterprise growing in a single day. This has been driven using an ever-increasing degree and availability of mobile hardware and stable working systems and development gear. Given the proliferation of cell devices around the arena (more than eighty-five percentage of the planet is the use of them), you may well ask, has South Africa taken advantage of this new outlet for her talent and industry?

The answer, unluckily, is mixed. South Africa has had some wonderful advantages while compared with its peers on the continent. Unfortunately, we have a track record of sitting on our laurels. We have managed to drop, or at least fumble, the ball regarding issues like young people’s improvement, the introduction of sustainable alternative energies, and the development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

South Africa

So one may properly ask are we going to miss the boat on the App growth too? It’s now not that I’m saying we’re completely useless; it’s more a case of failing to capture possibilities. Utilizing proper, South Africa ought to be one of the strongest players on the continent but allow’s observe what we’ve got completed with our possibilities.

At the flip of this century, we had one of the excellent telecommunications infrastructures on the continent; however, our line speeds and facts expenses are falling far at the back of the rest of Africa. In 2012 our Internet penetration was less than 14 percent, which places us beforehand of the African common of 13.Five% but well at the back of nations like Kenya (25%), Nigeria (29%), or Morocco (forty-nine%). We are above average, sure, however right here’s my factor: while you take into account our ability, is right sufficient all we need to be aiming for?

Our terrible performance in terms of education and communications infrastructure might be the single biggest stumbling block on this web of man’s improvement. Certainly, it’s miles the first-rate component in our lagging in the back of the rest of the sector on the subject of taking benefit of the app marketplace. Here we have a profit-producing industry that everybody has to enter, everywhere and at any time, and we are choking ourselves with old-line speeds and exorbitant charges for bandwidth.

Everyone can see how the e-tolling device may be bad for business and commuters. With that in mind, wouldn’t it sincerely wonder all people to pay attention that the latest study conducted by the Business Software Alliance located us 18th out of 24 international locations in our readiness for cloud computing? The record stated our low ranges of Internet penetration and low stages of records and communications generation as trouble. Also, it said that there is a desire to be higher in planning for the growth of our excessive-speed networks (we are presently lagging at the back of India in this branch). Above all, we’re going to need to make the Web faster and less expensive if we’re going to compete globally.

With a fantastically restrained infrastructure and expenses that are still prohibitive for plenty, apps’ penetration is obviously some distance behind what it should be, but it’s not all horrific news. While we have a way to make sure that our countrymen and women get into the habit of downloading apps, incorporate phrases we are clearly no longer up to now behind the curve. As Richard Cherry of Afrozaar Apps places it, “We clearly do observe nations just like the US, South Korea, and the EU as regards to general patron new-media apps. However, I trust our corporate and business-to-commercial enterprise app paradigm isn’t always that a long way at the back of.” Indeed, in certain industries like banking, South Africa is an international chief when you consider that we’re often used to piloting and testing enterprise software programs and systems. Banks like FNB actually have a strong imparting when it comes to banking apps and feature seen the benefits that are capable of offering something extra to their customers can convey.

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We’re nevertheless struggling to develop a subculture of app use for the common South African on the complete thought. We are all familiar with many biggies like Facebook, but there stays an untapped marketplace for apps designed for the neighborhood market. You’ve got to ask why greater of this type of app isn’t always being created. It can not be stated that South Africa is absolutely missing in talent or creativity. Indeed the studies organization Gartner rated us as one of the top 30 software-growing locations again in 2008.

The query is, what have we done with our potential? Are we letting every other opportunity slip by using? In 2009 the ITC ranked us first within the sub-classes of ICT security, cyber-, high-brow-property rights’ legal guidelines, and offerings to a gross home product. We came in 1/3 general as an outsourcing destination, which simplest shows my point that we’ve got the expertise and expertise in certain regions; however, we are regularly allowed down by 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 how we will enhance our ICT and harness the energy of our builders, we are at the mercy of conflicting forces – every trying to look after its personal pursuits without a hobby inside the improvement of our nation’s industries as a whole.

A working example, the greater recent ICT figures revealed that we ranked thirtieth out of 46 African international locations. At the same time, it came to our cell-facts charges—no prizes for guessing who’s letting the facet down right here. The backside line is that cell-information charges want to fall if we are not going to overlook some other opportunity. The penetration of cell devices a long way exceeds our Internet penetration, with nearly 80 percent of South Africans owning a mobile device. As smartphones drop-in charge, increasingly, humans will be using Android or iOS. That represents a big market with an exquisite capability if we will get people used to using apps. The first step to reaching this is losing costs so that they may not be past the customer’s method.

You’ve absolute confidence observed that some steps had been taken in this regard and costs are dropping, presuming it is now not a case of too little too overdue. The inevitable query for the business-minded individual would need to be, “How can I get concerned on this?” Local or global 25 billion app downloads sound like a pie you’ll need a slice of? If you are not an aspiring developer yourself, there may be no want to despair (certainly possibilities are you’ll want a group something occurs). The right idea can be all you need, and there are plenty of businesses in the South African marketplace to help you understand you’re imaginative and prescient. The chances are that you’re no longer going to copy Angry Birds’ achievement in a single day. However, Richard Cheary’s passed on a few guidelines you might want to undergo in thoughts:

-Build a group with the proper degrees of experience and skill units
-Obtain crew revel in on several professional provider initiatives and also placed at the time, beyond regular time if necessary, to investigate and broaden current apps
-Try a few apps yourself to completely apprehend the tool structures being targeted
-Focus on building a software program component base for reusability and future extensions
-Find ways to mature shipping and/or production traces
-Then, have your group agree on a product or platform and commit to constructing it in

This final factor may be a bit of a stumbling block. After all, do you need to create a web app or an app designed to be native to the device on which it’s far run? Ideally, your app should be capable of cope with both situations. Certainly, you ought to layout any app or internet site with cellular gadgets’ regulations in thoughts. The various tiers of penetration between mobile and Internet connections make it clean which you are absolutely going to want a mobile website for your enterprise. However, the conflicts and versions between browsers can frequently be a stumbling block, and a native app can regularly be a way of ensuring that an app works stably and as you need it to.

If you decide to go together with a native app, then the probabilities are that you want to go along with Android (except you’re providing a product that you deem more suitable for the iPhone market). My questioning here comes right down to the reality that fee is likely to be one of the largest elements within the adoption of cellular devices in this united states of America. Most familiar bottom-of-the-range smartphones are likely to be using one version of the Android OS or every other, so it makes sense to make certain your app might be solid on Android.


While it’s miles well worth noting our weaknesses, it’s far similarly vital to know our strengths well. For entrepreneurs, app development represents an extensive opportunity, and it’s miles one which South Africans, and their counterparts at the rest of the continent, are seizing more and more. As a cellular strategist and AppCircus co-founder Rudy De Waele lately commented: “Many of the African app builders we met during the AppCircus Africa tour ultimate year had been university graduates, but the sizeable majority have learned to code through the Internet.

They have excellent entrepreneurial spirit and force. However, they lack the business education, and mentors had to take their apps to the subsequent stage.” South Africa has talented people who can and can be full-size gamers inside the worldwide app market. February of this year saw one in every of our personal app developers, Anne Shongwe, elected a finalist within the sixth annual Mobile Premier Awards in Barcelona. We might also have a manner to move regarding catching up with the rest of the arena in growing apps. However, it’s far excellent to see that we truly have those leading the manner and representing South Africa. Hopefully, they may not be allowed down via a loss of guide and vision.

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Harlan J. Whelan
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