mobilephonesThe results of Mobility 2014 were released today by Arthur Goldstuck, MD of research house World Wide Worx.

The study is now in its eighth year and gives insight into the South African mobile and internet landscape.

As someone who loves facts and figures (projections, not so much), I was glad to be in attendance to hear more about the South African scene.

Mobile Internet in SA 2014
One of the statistics that stood out for me was that only 48% of those surveyed (adults living in Urban areas in SA) knew what mobile operating system they use – absolutely shocking. More importantly, who is to blame? Media? Operators? Retailers? It was also revealed that WhatsApp has taken over when it comes to messaging with 53% of respondents making use of it, compared to 18 months ago to mid-2012. The second most popular chatting tool in South Africa is, no surprise, Facebook Chat with 45% using it, followed by Mxit with 25% and BBM rose to 21% within the last 18 months. WeChat, somewhat new to local scene, is sitting at 5%.

From all adult South Africans who were surveyed, 20% said they were using Twitter, up from 12% in mid-2012. The number does seem low, but given that the total number of South Africans who access the Internet is sitting at 65% (collectively via laptop, PC, mobile, tablet), it puts the total number of users at 13 million. World Wide Worx says that 10.5 million adults use apps on their handsets, and if you add kids, it would be much higher.

When it came to mobile apps, some favourite apps included Facebook, WhatsApp and Mxit, while most users would love to be able to use Skype on their handsets. Popular mobi sites included News24, Vodafone Live, MTN Play, social media sites, and Nokia Music was the most popular music site.

Mobile Consumer in SA 2014
On the mobile consumer side, while networks are seeing a decline in voice revenues, the Mobility 2014 report reveals that youngsters (19-24 years old) are making use of mobile data more, with data spend on the rise to 24%, an increase from the 17% in mid-2012. Mobile budget for voice has dropped to 56% from 66% last year.

The market overall has shown a shift of voice budget down to 65% from 75% last year, while data has increased from 12% to 16%. In 2010, voice stood at 77% and data at 8%. The drastic change is not surprising. Personally, I have no use for voice, and I’m pretty sure with the availability of VoiP apps that this stat will continue to shrink over the years.

Interestingly, the most popular handset in South Africa is still Nokia, even though it is dropping in market share, down to 44% from 50%. Surprisingly, while on a decline in the West, BlackBerry has increased its market share from 18% to 23%. Another shock is that Samsung’s market share in less than BlackBerry, sitting at 19%. In 2012, one third of consumers surveyed who use Samsung handsets said they would opt for other phones. Not surprisingly, on 1.5% of users were on iPhone.

On the banking front, in mid-2012 only 1% of users made use of banking apps. That figure has shot up to 9%, while there has been an increase in cellphone banking too, up to 37% from 28%.

When it comes to features on phones, the most popular is a camera (73%), followed by FM Radio (51%) and a music player (49%).

For the first time this year, tablets were taken into account in the Mobility report with approximately 5% of adult cellphone users owning one. Most surveyed use it for internet access (77%), email (57%), social media and apps in joint third spot (43%). Market share for tablets is sitting at 52% Samsung and 23% iPad.

An interesting comment from Arthur Goldstuck today was that they are seeing a move to not just a data economy, but to a messaging economy. I’m looking forward to seeing what the stats will look like next year – where BBM will be positioned, what the uptake for WhatsApp will be, and market share between handsets.