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Once prolific South African chat app Mxit has officially died a quiet and lonely death, taking the likes of Joebanker, Info and Tradepost with it.
The Stellenbosch-based company announced in October 2015 that it was to shut its doors to users spending their days on its instant messaging service. On 1 October 2016, the company finally pulled the plug.
First spotted by BusinessTech, those who have a Mxit account will now be unable to log in, let alone access or send messages. Visiting the company’s long-standing website also produces 404 errors.
Although Mxit’s demise is fairly unconcerning for most, it’s safe to suggest that the service has had a profound impact on South Africa’s social media landscape.
Mxit: the company’s dramatic timeline
Back in 2010, when South Africa’s smartphone penetration began to rise, the service boasted around 27-million registered users — more than half of Pokemon Go‘s active user base in August 2016. At its peak, it serviced 50-million people across the globe, with 17-million (the population of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town’s metros combined) of those users in South Africa.
In early 2014, WhatsApp was the big new service in the country. World Wide Worx suggested that 10.6-million urban adults were using the service in 2014, putting Mxit in an awkward predicament. Late in that very same year, Mxit suffered a number of retrenchments which saw the company shed around 45 members of staff.
Mxit, at one point, boasted 50-million users worldwide, with around a third of those in South Africa
Despite the company’s best efforts — launching new features, changing focus to social enrichment, and pushing its service into mobile-rich India — the company just couldn’t compete with its new instant messaging rivals.
In January 2015, the service’s global user numbers fell to just one million.
Mxit: the rise and collapse of ‘Africa’s largest social network’
Flashback to 2010. Naspers is still a majority shareholder in Mxit, at this stage Africa’s largest social network and instant messaging client with 27-million registered users. It is the darling of the South African technology space, proof that a digital African company can play on the international stage. Read more…
Much of the company’s focus, and its infrastructure, is being put to use in The Reach Trust. According to Mxit, the trust will play a “very important role in improving the lives of millions through access to free education, health and counselling services”.
“Our mobile-first solutions are designed to cost-effectively enable the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy, whilst focusing on three priority areas to improve lives through education,” notes the Reach Trust, explaining its ultimate goal.
While Mxit is finally dead, the company’s achievements — at least with those who could access its service in the late 2000s — will be fondly remembered.