New look, more growth for mobile social network MXit

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MXit, Africa’s largest instant messenger and mobile social network, has received a makeover. The service is also claiming that a further 1.1-million users have downloaded its new-look version in the first week, increasing daily registrations by 25% to “60 000 new registrations per day”.

MXit, part-owned by emerging markets internet Goliath Naspers, wants to reinvent itself as “a global leader in the mobile space”.

The service is used in 120 countries world-wide. It dominates the South African landscape, eclipsing Facebook and Twitter useage in that country. It has also achieved footholds in Africa and emerging market territories like the Philippines. The service claims to have 37-million world-wide users, although these figures are unaudited and it’s unclear whether they represent active users or not.

The new look includes search functionality that allows users to find and manage contacts, services and applications within MXit and a ‘friends’ navigation feature that allows a user to see more detailed information about their contacts.

“People that don’t use MXit still think of it as an instant messaging platform, and although we will always retain that feature because of its enormous value to our users, we are proud to say that the evolution of MXit over the last five or so years has culminated in it becoming a serious player in the global social networking space,” says Juan du Toit, head of international business development and marketing for MXit.

The new development changes have been about 18 months in the making, and the company says there are more to come that will “distinguish it from all other global social networks over the next 12 months”.

Safety is central to the reinvented MXit. The company has included a number of new security measures, including allowing users to manage their privacy settings by enabling or disabling their profiles in public searches.

Besides popular one-to-one and group chat features, MXit’s suite of services and applications include:

  • Email facilities that allow users to create and use email from their mobile phones.
  • Entertainment features such as interactive games, music and mobile phone application downloads, sport, news and weather updates and competitions and questionnaires.
  • A classified section, called “MXit Xchange”, which the company claims is used by more than 18.5-million MXit users. The inventory is refreshed every seven days to keep content relevant and fresh.
  • The platform also features “MXit Cares”, which offers users free real-time advice and counseling on anything from drug and substance abuse to counseling users on HIV/Aids, debt counseling, career guidance and so forth. It works with agencies like Childline, Cell-Life and RLabs to bring professional counseling to its users.
  • MXit Cares has teamed up a number of professional educators to provide a host of online tutorials, quizzes and information that help national learners navigate subjects like Maths, Physical Science and Life Sciences.
  • MXit V6 allows users to search for friends using their name, email or telephone number.
  • It also allows users to find friends by uploading their telephone book contacts.
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