Now though, it looks like the company’s determined not to let the cobwebs settle again as it prepares for a full-frontal assault on the Asian markets, starting with India. While Mxit has always been supported in India, its user numbers are limited. Of the 7.4-million or so monthly active users it lays claim to 84% are in South Africa, with most of the rest in Africa. With the rapid uptake of smartphones in the country, it’s hardly surprising however that Mxit would target such a potentially lucrative market, especially now that it’s upped its own smartphone efforts.
Mxit staffers have been fairly quiet about the exact nature of the launch, but we are starting to get a more coherent picture. Here’s what we know so far:
1. Gary Kirsten is the face of the campaign
The former South African opening batsman and Indian cricket coach is being used to market Mxit’s Indian launch. That makes sense. Even before he coached India to a win in the 2011 World Cup, he was immensely popular in the cricket mad country. He may not have the same kind of impact as a top Indian cricketer might have, but he probably doesn’t cost nearly as much either.
Good news – heading back to India today for the official launch of #MxitIndia. Bringing the homegrown Mxit to my other home away from home!
— Gary Kirsten (@Gary_Kirsten) January 26, 2014
Kirsten is apparently set to be Mxit India’s ambassador for the next three years.
2. Michael Jordaan is there
If you wanted more proof that Mxit is bringing out the big guns for its India launch, look no further than the fact that it’s flown over its chairman and former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan.
Looking forward to 1) be in India again 2) launching Mxit India and 3) having a cappuccino again with @Gary_Kirsten
— Michael Jordaan (@MichaelJordaan) January 26, 2014
3. The office is already set up
As you can see, Jordaan’s already taken the time to pose next to it.
Mxit India HQ pic.twitter.com/PVXxiOFf8o
— Michael Jordaan (@MichaelJordaan) January 27, 2014
4. Sam Rufus Nallaraj is the CEO
A former contestant on The Apprentice Asia and Vice President at Deloitte & Touché in Hyderabad, Nallaraj looks like he’ll bring some serious business acumen to the top job at Mxit India. Moreover, the Mxit board have placed their trust in someone with local knowledge. Chances are that’ll turn out better than flying someone out from South Africa would have.
There has been speculation that Mxit’s Indian operation could be used as a springboard into the rest of Asia. If that’s the case, it won’t have an easy time of things. Apps such as WeChat, Line and Kakao Talk have all done a pretty good job of capturing the attention of smartphone users in the region.
It seems likely therefore that it’ll try to lure in customers who are still on feature phones (although it’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Hike and WhatsApp). That definitely makes sense in India where feature phones are still predominant. It could also work in the likes of Malaysia and Vietnam. But if it wants to crack China (home to WeChat) then it’ll seriously have to up its game.
Update: Mxit has officially launched in India.