Yesterday I rocked up to the Mobile Media Mindblast in Camps Bay, a high production-values sledgehammer to the collective hive-mind of SA marketeers that they need to up their game in the mobile world. As if people hadn’t cottoned on yet (and if they hadn’t, then they must have been sweating through proceedings yesterday).
Joseph Jaffe’s intro was thought-provoking, and said it all, really… after that, aside from an endless litany of stats redoubling the magnitude of how huge mobile is in SA, and how the market here in many ways paves the way for the rest of the world, there was probably a bit too much of the why and not enough of the how.
Apart from Brett St Clair from Google. He skipped us through some of Google’s innovative marketing executions for mobile, including Google Goggles, which throws open all sorts of fun possibilities for someone (ie me) thinking about the relationship between print and mobile, and the fun you could have with that space in between.
Vodacom and Mxit (the main sponsors of the event) were very clear about why they’re massive players in the market, but I didn’t get much of a sense of how they are going to maintain or grow… Right now Mxit are leagues ahead in the youth market on mobile. But I wanted to hear more about how Mxit is planning to evolve, especially given the fact that Blackberry was last week voted the coolest youth brand by South Africa’s young people (no doubt powered by BBM)…
While concrete learnings or insights might have been a little thin on the ground, I enjoyed MMM immensely because (a) it confirmed many of the assumptions I’ve been making about the way mobile platforms (especially in terms of content for young people) are headed here; (b) I sat scribbling ideas just from having the headspace to devote to mobile; and (c) I met some very interesting people.
Not least one of the panellists, from SA Parliament, who’s looking at using mobile for civic participation (we agreed to talk more), but also I had the chance hang out a bit with the Google SA team and begin some conversations about some ideas that I’m very excited about…
All I need now is the advent of cheap smartphones to hurry up and start infiltrating the mass SA market, and the most encouraging thing I heard yesterday was that, well, they’re well on their way.
(Ironically, when I woke up this morning, my trusty smartphone was dead. Black screen. So while the future hurtles towards us, it’s back to pay-as-you-go and WAP for me.)
You might be interested in a good article in the recent Intelligent Life (by the economist) about the smartphone revolution in africa generally - might be online