Toeter, launched a year ago as an Afrikaans-only social media platform, has debuted applications in both the Apple App Store and in Google Play in the past few weeks and is now planning an English-language version in the hope of gaining a wider audience.
Founder Frans Roelofse tells TechCentral that Toeter started life as a social media site that borrowed ideas from both Twitter and Facebook. The name comes from the idea of sending 160-character status updates, or “toeters”.
Since its launch last May, the site has attracted 50 000 users.
Roelofse has lived around the world and worked as both an entrepreneur and a lawyer. At 59, he’s no spring chicken, but he says he has always been eager to “find out what lies in the future and to embrace new things”.
He has worked on Toeter with a small team of developers since 2011. “We took note of how people consumed content, especially with the growth of mobile. People spend an average of 147 minutes on their smartphones and look at their phones 96 times a day. This is besides just making calls or sending messages. We wanted to provide the user with an experience that will capture most of this 147 minutes.”
He says there has been an explosion in the mobile Internet in Africa in the past four years, with more than 120m smartphones in use today, with that number expected to grow to over 500m within the next five years.
“This is the greatest business opportunity we will see in our lifetimes,” he gushes. “By 2020, 75% of global online transactions will come from mobile, with 90% using their smartphones as a platform to do their daily business transactions.”
Roelofse says 86% of people who use mobile Internet use apps to go online. “We tried to find a purpose for the Toeter app. It has evolved to become a next-generation mobile media network.”
The app has three main functions. The first is as a traditional social media platform — allowing users to share information with their friends. The second is a messaging service, and the third is Toeter TV, which the company describes as South Africa’s first mobile TV network.
Toeter has partnered with KykNet to stream some of the MultiChoice-owned channel’s content. Users can either watch produced content or user-generated content from around the world. Like YouTube, they can even publish their own videos to the platform.
The messaging and television functionality will only be available in May.
Toeter TV allows users to watch content for free, with plans for premium content later.
Toeter is working to incorporate mobile commerce features into the app, too, according to Roelofse.
The app will be launched in English later this year, with other local languages possible, too.
Toeter is based in Cape Town and has 15 employees. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media