Mxit reloads its cannons - TechCentral

Mxit reloads its cannons

Vincent Maher

Vincent Maher

Stellenbosch-based Mxit, the social mobile chat company now chaired by outgoing First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan, has released version 7 of its social network for feature phones, with iPhone and iPad versions coming later in the week.

The launch of Mxit 7 is happening in a phased roll-out, with Android and BlackBerry versions available in the coming weeks, and a version for Windows Phone coming early next year.

The company says Mxit 7 will run on more than 8 000 devices, including tablets, and embraces each platform to make it feel like a native app. It comes as competition intensifies from international competitors such as WhatsApp and WeChat.

“We improved the chat experience across all versions of Mxit,” says chief product officer Vincent Maher. “We’re also building on the things that made Mxit great in the first place — the fact that we can reliably deliver half a billion messages every day — and extending that with new features like group chat.”

Nokia Asha feature phone devices will now receive messages when they are offline, and users can switch between conversations with individuals and groups.

Meanwhile, the iOS 7 version has been built from the ground up, and will offer features such as Doodlechat, which lets users draw pictures on the screen or on photos and share them, and Backdrop, which lets users drop photos into the background of any chat window. The iPhone and iPad versions will be available to download from the App Store on 15 November.

Key features on Mxit 7 for feature phones include group chat, chat tabs, revamped profiles, offline messages, automatic upgrades and “data light”, which uses less data and memory than previous versions.

Mxit CEO Francois Swart says Mxit 7 is the result of a renewed focus on offering an “affordable and rich chat experience that bridges the gap between feature and smartphone users”.

Mxit was recently knocked off the top spot as South Africa’s largest social network. Mxit claims to have 7,4m active users, of which 6,5m are South African, while Facebook has 9,4m active users, according to data from World Wide Worx.

There was some controversy surrounding Mxit’s user numbers last year after former Mxit CEO Alan Knott-Craig claimed it had as many as 12,5m users. It based the figures on a 90-day metric, against the industry standard of 30 days, which the company has now switched to.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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