The 2013 report on African Mobile Device Usage Trends has confirmed that mobile devices have transitioned from being primarily used for voice and text to more sophisticated multi-functional usage based on their mobile media capabilities. As smartphone functionality continues to improve with higher resolutions and larger screens, faster Internet access through 4G networks that are being built across Africa and higher data downloads, means uptake will increase significantly over the next five years. According to the report, Africa’s smartphone penetration in 2013 was at 22 % in the 25 to 60 years bracket and predicts this to reach 50% by 2016, when it is likely that virtually all mobile phones will have built-in smartphone functionality. Tablet penetration in African urban households is also forecast to increase significantly from 7% in 2013 to 25% in 2017 and researchers expect Tablet growth will outpace that of smartphones, which are a more mature device closer to maximum penetration across Africa. The report indicates that half of all smartphone users in East and Southern African countries regularly utilize their smartphone with mobile media. The voice function of smartphones has become less important to users as other options for communication become more accessible.
Instant chat apps such as WhatsApp that was recently acquired by Facebook are now more popular than SMS. In Nigeria and South Africa, the two leading tech countries in Africa, accessing social networking and searching for jobs, houses to rent and cars to buy will continues to increase in popularity day by day. In Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania booking travel and accommodation through mobile devices, laptops and PC’s has also gained significant popularity with nearly 70% of consumers doing this at least once every quarter. The report that focuses on state of mobile technology shows that companies are finally getting the hang of pushing ads to mobile devices and audience for mobile ads has grown by almost 150% over the past 18 months and that one-in-20 ads pushed to smartphones and tablets is now in video form. The report also combines the results of consumer questionnaires, and the majority of smartphone owners don’t realize that ads served to them over a 3G of the 4G connection actually end up costing them money.
When asked, 88% of respondents said that they believed mobile ads didn’t count towards their monthly data plan quotas, when in fact they usually do. App business in countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania the model continues to move away from premium to free but is supported by ads and in-app purchases, it might make sense for consumers to pay the supplement for the ad-free version if the option exists in a particular title. At the moment, the researchers calculates that 5% of a smartphone owner’s daily mobile data use is down to ads, and as more companies move to video ads, and in particular, video ads that automatically launch and start playing, this percentage is going to rise significantly. In South Africa and Kenya, data quotas given over to video are also expected to rise because of the growing popularity of sharing moving as well as still images through the social media. The reports puts the fact that 40% of the data content on social networks in Africa is now video, the average smartphone owner dedicates around 13% of their mobile data to accessing sites like YouTube but there is a territorial split. In East African countries, 28% of mobile data use is taken up by social media while in West African countries it takes 22% and in the Southern Africa region, the figure stands at 19%.