In late 2007 MTN launched its Instant Messaging (IM) chat service called NokNok, allowing subscribers to chat in real time, join chatrooms, create their own private chatrooms and share picture files.
MTN’s NokNok was widely seen as a direct competitor to MXit which gained tremendous uptake among South Africa’s youth.
However, NokNok did not attract any meaningful support, and the company has informed all NokNok subscribers that the service will be coming to an end on 30 June 2011.
MTN is not the only cellular operator which unsuccessfully tried to take on MXit.
Vodacom launched Meep – a real-time, presence-based Instant Messaging service – in late 2007. Vodacom replicated MXit’s business model with Meepots as their virtual currency (as opposed to MXit’s Moolas).
Vodacom’s IM service failed to attract significant support, and the cellular operator pulled the plug on Meep on 1 November 2009.
Despite the poor performance of Meep and NokNok, mobile messaging is alive and well in South Africa, with MXit and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) battling it out for the top spot among South Africans.