How WhatsApp killed Mxit and BBM in South Africa


Who's the Boss?
Staff member
May 24, 2010
The rise of WhatsApp in South Africa — and how it can fall

WhatsApp didn’t stumble into dominance. It grew into the dominant force in mobile messaging over many years, and it could be overtaken by its competition if it repeats the mistakes of the platforms it defeated.

Even though WhatsApp launched on iOS in 2009 at the very beginning of the modern smartphone age, it entered a highly competitive market.
BBM would have still dominated if they made the messaging app cross platform, was a short sighted move.

Skype was never a competitor on mobile, not sure why it was mentioned in the article, guess to help SEO.
On a more serious note though, WhatsApp still complains about the Privacy Policy everytime I open it, and if they cut me off as a result of my not accepting it, so be it.


jirre tog - talking about mxit and BBM in 2021....

the one failed 'cos it was kuk - kuk to use, kuk to look at, unintuitive - smartphones came along and mxit was still using a crappy Terminal Emulator style UI
the other failed becuase smartphones came along and BBM ONLY ran on Blackberry - ie it wasn't cross platform
The intrusions won't matter. Saffas are super sanguine and frankly lazy on such matters. People stick with Vodacom and MTN even when they know they could get cheaper and even better elsewhere.
BBM would have still dominated if they made the messaging app cross platform, was a short sighted move.

Network effects. If a Cell C phone can only call other Cell C phones, but an MTN one can call all networks, I know which one I want.
BBM main thing was that uncapped internet that came with the bundle!

BBM was BBM because of the data. The majority of people that I know who used it at the time didn't care about UI, UX or hardware.

Once the uncapped bundles died off, BBM died off.
I was heavily addicted to mxit back then and I remember heavily promoting it to be supported in the pidgin and gnome mailing lists
Mxit really missed the bus later on imo. It was an early Whatsapp that had some great features. However they really failed to evolve, and their attempts at monetisation wasn't great.

Edit. Article was a good read. :)