New generation of economy apps arrives in SA
Following in the footstep's of programs like WhatsApp is a new generation of apps aimed at South African's wanting to save money. For instance, DialMedia refunds users when they make calls using the app, and Onavo Extend compresses data, allowing users to browse more on their data plans.
As the economy remains soft, smartphone users are finding ways to cut communication costs and benefit from their multifunctional handsets. From bandwidth to phone calls, ‘economical apps’ are some of the hottest on the market. Following the lead of WhatsApp – a top-selling app that allows unlimited free text messaging between callers – a new generation of apps is being welcomed by cash-strapped South African consumers struggling with expensive mobile phone charges.
A recent arrival on the smartphone market is a free app – developed in South Africa – that offers users money back on their calls. Currently facilitating over one million calls per month, DialMedia is available on all Apple, Android and Blackberry smartphones. Whether on a contract or pre-paid service, the app refunds callers up to R1.50 per call, either by EFT or directly on their cell phone account.
To cover the cost of calls, a short audio ad is played, which users can also skip. Once users listen to the ad, the call is connected. Highly targeted and ‘location aware’, the mobile audio ads are also interactive, allowing consumers to tap on their touchscreens for more details. DialMedia also offers exclusive vouchers and specials, consolidating deals from malls and other retailers.
The service – with more than 15,000 users as of September, two-thirds of whom are on top-up service packages – is currently in beta and will be launching officially later this year. Brands and organisations that have partnered with DialMedia include Ray-Ban, the rock band Van Coke Kartel and the OppiKoppi festival. Based in Cape Town, the company has initially focused on cost-conscious student market, but the 25-35 year-old segment is rapidly growing, currently accounting for one quarter of DialMedia’s users.
“Times are tough and finding an app that pays is something that we think will become more popular as smartphone usage increases,” explains Philip Bartholomew, the co-founder and marketing director for DialMedia. According to Gartner Research, 80% of South African consumers are expected to have a smartphone by 2015.
Onavo Extend is another free app that allows smartphone users to ‘extend’ their data plans by compressing data. The company claims it can extend users’ data plans by up to 500%, including the reduction of roaming charges. Offering a breakdown of data usage, the app allows users to better manage their data consumption. South African social networking platforms for mobile phones are also growing in popularity with homegrown apps such as 2go and MXit broadly used across the continent.
“These new breed of apps are giving price-sensitive South Africans – facing high data, calling and SMS rates – a chance to save money. More than ever, it pays – quite literally – to have a smartphone,” adds Bartholomew.