MXit – a mobile chat and entertainment platform – recently announced that it has surpassed the 5 million subscriber mark. The company told MyBroadband that it currently has 5.7 million subscribers of which 5.2 million are South African users.
A reliable source however questioned the value of these quoted numbers, saying that their active users – typically subscribers who have used the service over the last month – are significantly less than the claimed 5.2 Million.
There are suggestions that this mobile messaging platform’s active user base is more in the region of ‘hundreds of thousands’ than the ‘5 Million’ figure which is often bantered around.
MXit Managing Director Herman Heunis says that it is common knowledge that the registered user base does not equal the active user base.
“MXit has never published any figures apart from its registered user base and it is common knowledge that a registered user base does not equal an active user base,” said Heunis.
“An active user base is not only a volatile figure (especially in the mobile IM world) that changes all the time due to numerous parameters; it is also confidential information as competitors can easily deduce valuable knowledge such as churn, success of new products and many other business aspects which we simply are not prepared to divulge to our competitors.”
The release of updated subscriber numbers and monthly users is standard in both the print and online publishing markets, but this is not something that happens in the messaging market Heunis said.
The MXit MD further feels that MXit provides sufficient information (such as number of logins per day, traffic per day, new registrations per day, user base demographics) to their advertisers and marketing firms to enable them to make prudent business decisions.
“Our advertising model is similar to internet marketing where advertisers only pay per view or impression of their content and the fact of the matter is, advertisers will only return if they feel they get value for their money. With more than 9,000,000 logins per day there is certainly enough “traffic” through MXit to attract the interest of advertisers who see the benefits of mobile advertising,” said Heunis.
Heunis further pointed out that MXit received between 10 000 and 11 000 new subscriptions per day and that a staggering 200 Million messages are sent per day on their system.
The real user base
It is clear that the active MXit user base is definitely far smaller than 5 Million, but it is undisputed that the platform is very popular amoung the local teenage market.
One can assume that the active MXit user base will be at least hundreds of thousands, and despite the secrecy surrounding the actual figure it is likely to remain a very popular avenue for advertisers to reach the younger mobile market.
The success of MXit has created great interest in the mobile messaging market, and with Vodacom planning their ‘The Grid’ mobile social networking platform and other prominent players like Skype making mobile moves, current companies will have to remain on top of their game to maintain market share.