Vodacom South Africa to launch apps store in September


Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, has announced that Vodacom will be providing a mobile app store to consumers in September 2011. The announcement came after an extensive inquiry into the local mobile app ecosystem through a multi-phased market research project conducted by Columinate. Vodacom shared the results of the Columinate research with industry stakeholders at a special event held at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg on Friday, 26 August.

On Friday, 26 August, Columinate and Vodacom hosted a special breakfast event to share the findings from a multi-phased research inquiry into the local mobile app ecosystem.

Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, announced that he was so excited about Columinate's research that he wanted to share it with the world. Before sharing the results, Uys spoke briefly about Vodacom's intentions for the mobile app ecosystem in South Africa, and went on to announce the launch of Vodacom's app store in September 2011.

Thereafter, Henk Pretorius, Columinate director, presented the findings from the market research. This represented a collation of the multi-phased project conducted by Columinate which looked at how industry experts and stakeholders, as well as developers and consumers of apps, felt about the local ecosystem and its possibilities.

Overall, 11 industry professionals, 407 smartphone owners who have downloaded apps in the past 6 months, and 35 developers took part in the research. The research was also preceded and continuously checked against an in-depth desk research phase that looked at international nuances compared to those evident in the local ecosystem.

One finding in the report suggests that networks are considered to be in a favourable position to act as enablers, as they have the ability to drive app demand, interact with consumers and provide a gateway for developers to get their apps to the market. This finding can be linked to Uys's statement that, "The launch of this app store is just the beginning. We're building an entire community that will supply home-grown apps relevant to the South African environment. With all the talent available in this country, there's no reason why we can't create our own application industry."

According to Elna Smit, Columinate director, "The research presented a challenge for Columinate as it was the first of its kind in South Africa. There are no formal or public sources that have looked at the apps ecosystem locally, and we had to take an innovative and fresh perspective to provide Vodacom with the insight needed”.

“The approach was a 360 degree view of the ecosystem and, from a researcher's point of view, the opportunity to do this depth of research was very rewarding." She also added, "Vodacom's willingness to openly share the market research findings, something that is rarely done, represents a move that challenges all players in the industry to work together in order to nurture, enable and develop the local app ecosystem. "

Vodacom’s announcement about launching an apps store follows a similar announcement in July by Zantel about the rollout of  Blackberry powered apps store. Mobile operators Orange and Tunisiana have already launched apps stores in Tunisia. The pace of launching apps store in Africa is picking up and if you need to know more to what extent mobile applications will play a role in the development of mobile content on the continent, you need to read the recently published report by Balancing Act: “Mobile apps for Africa: Strategies to make sense of free and paid apps”. The report analyses the nascent apps ecosystem in Africa while providing an analytical framework that will allow African mobile operators, content providers, apps developers and handset manufacturers to decide on what strategy to adopt regarding mobile apps. To find out more about the report please click here: