When former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan took on the job of chairman of Mxit, he wasn’t coming to the rescue of a dwindling brand but rather taking on one built on solid foundations.
So says World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck when releasing an analysis of South Africa’s homegrown instant messaging service. Goldstuck says while Facebook might have taken over as the country’s biggest social network, Mxit has maintained the loyalty of its user base.
World Wide Worx and Fuseware’s SA Social Media Landscape 2014 research study showed that the Mxit user base had fallen significantly in the past year. But that when taking into account a change in the way the service measures active users from being active on the network over 90 days to being on in the last 30 days, Mxit appears have turned a corner.
In July 2012, a 30-day active measure gave Mxit 6.2-million subscribers. A year later, in July 2013, the active subscriber base had grown marginally to 6.3-million. In August, this number had grown to 6.5-million. This means that, despite a high churn rate among pre-paid cellphone users, which comprise most of Mxit’s base, the network is winning back enough users and attracting enough new customers every month to make up for that churn. It suggests that a high proportion of those who change their pre-paid phone numbers return to register on Mxit again.
“This finding provides fascinating insight into the willingness of outgoing FNB CEO Michael Jordaan to take on the role of chairman of Mxit,” says Goldstuck.
The SA Social Media Landscape 2014 report describes the decision by new Mxit CEO Francois Swart to clean up how Mxit reported its numbers as a turning point for the network. However, this does not mean its survival is guaranteed.
Managing director of Fuseware, Mike Wronski, says Mxit is holding its own, but at a time when Facebook has grown by more than half and Twitter has more than doubled. “That is enough of a challenge, but then you also have local instant messaging service 2Go overtaking Mxit in active users across Africa, and WhatsApp in turn overtaking everyone, including Facebook,” he says.
Mxit currently has 7.4-million active users across Africa, while 2Go has 10.5-million.