The rise of mobile

Rapidly changing stats on the Vodacom Now blog reflect a nation-wide trend: more South Africans are consuming media on mobile devices than ever before.

In 2013, the first month that the Vodacom now! blog launched, 93% of our readers accessed the website on a desktop computer.

Many of our readers are also likely to have skipped the desktop phase entirely – moving straight to smartphones as their source of internet and online activity.

Thanks to the rapid proliferation of smart devices and increasing access to the internet that number has changed significantly: fast-forward to January 2016 and 49% are now browsing on their phone while only 42% access the site on desktop.

The blog, which covers the latest news from Vodacom as well as trending tech updates, has had to adapt to this shift by adjusting our content strategy to meet the changing needs of our readers.

In the space of three years, our reader base has moved from desktop computer to a handheld device.

Many of our readers are also likely to have skipped the desktop phase entirely – moving straight to smartphones as their source of internet and online activity.

According to a Pew Global, since 2002, cell phone ownership has exploded in Africa. In 2002 only 8% of Ghanaians said they owned a mobile phone compared to 83% in 2015. This 10-fold increase has been seen in all African countries where data is available.

Ownership is particularly high in South Africa and Nigeria, where about nine-in-10 have a cell phone. According to the report: ‘Roughly a third of South Africans (34%) and about a quarter of Nigerians (27%) say that their device is a smartphone, i.e. one that can access the internet and apps, such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Android device.

While the main activity on the millions of cellphones in Africa isn’t necessarily online browsing – text messaging, taking photos and shooting video top the list – it does show just how quickly Africans are adopting devices.

The challenge for publishers is to adapt to this diverse audience and find ways of creating engaging content that works for our readers. Content needs to be easy to consume, it needs to load quickly and it’s critical for publishers to factor in the often-exorbitant cost of data on the continent – something American and European users don’t need to worry about.

It’s an exciting time for publishers. Smartphones give publishers a direct line to audiences virtually 24 hours a day. Creating valuable content that our readers actually want to consume now up to us.

First published on New Media’s Storyboard

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