Social apps take over SA smartphones

October 14th, 2015
A recent report has revealed that for the second consecutive year, social media apps have dominated free downloads on all major app stores in South Africa.

For the second consecutive year, social media apps have dominated free downloads on all three major app stores in South Africa, namely Google Play for Android, the Apple App Store for iOS, and the Windows Store.

This is one of the key findings of of the South African Social Media Landscape study by technology research organisation World Wide Worx and media analytics company Fuseware. The headline findings released in September showed steady growth for most social networks, but the full report, released today, reveals just how deeply entrenched their mobile apps have become in South Africa.

The study is based on access to consumer data from seven major social networks, three app stores, and a corporate survey conducted among more than a hundred of South Africa’s leading brands.

WhatsApp in particular is dominant, topping the list of both iOS and Android downloads. Only in the Windows Store does it drop, down to third position, with its parent company Facebook enjoying number one position. Facebook is second in free iOS downloads and third in Android.

Facebook properties dominate the next two positions on iOS as well, with Facebook Messenger and Instagram rounding out the top four. The Google Play store has the same top four, in a slightly different order, with Facebook Messenger at two and Instagram also in fourth place.

Windows Phone has a slightly different mix, thanks to marketing emphasis by Microsoft, which has its own Podcast app in second, its cloud storage app OneDrive in fourth place, and the Microsoft-owned Skype in fifth.  However, Facebook messenger lies sixth, giving Facebook three of the top six spots for free Windows Store downloads.

“It can be argued that Facebook currently owns mobile – but not necessarily its revenue,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx. “Games completely dominate the top ten lists for highest grossing apps on iOS and Android, filling the entire top ten on each, as well as the top eight in the Windows Store.”

Fuseware MD Mike Wronski points out that smartphones have not been entirely taken over by entertainment impulses: “The occasional utility app does intrude in the list of most downloaded paid apps. The serious professional and business users of smartphones still want to combine their social and work lives on their handsets.”

The report shows that Facebook has grown by 8 per cent in the past year, from 12-million to 13-million, and Twitter by 12 per cent, from 6,6-million to 7,4-million users. Video sharing platform YouTube increased its user base marginally more, with a 15 per cent rise from 7,2-million to 8,28-million users. The biggest growth has come from photo sharing network Instagram, which rose 133 per cent, from 1,1-million to 2,68-million.

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