MXit has taken Africa by storm. Already the continent’s largest mobile social platform, the website this month sealed a partnership with software company Opera to make its presence even stronger.
With a global user base of 44 million, MXit can be used on any of the major platforms - Microsoft Windows,Windows Mobile, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Java ME, Linux,BlackBerry OS.
And soon, social network enthusiasts using Opera in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria will soon be able to have one-click access to MXit services.
For those who don’t know, MXit offers free multimedia messaging, allowing users to send and receive one-on-one text and multimedia messages to and from other users and talk in chat rooms. MXit also supports gateways to other instant messaging platforms, too.
South African investment group World of Avatar acquired MXit in September this year. Chief Executive Officer Alan Knott Craig Jnr says: “MXit empowers African people by helping them build communities and make money via their mobile phones. We believe the alliance with Opera will bring us a step closer to fulfilling that vision.”
The majority of MXit users are in Africa, with an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 new registered user accounts per day. A recent study by UNICEF South Africa showed that 30 percent of teenagers in the country spend most of their free time chatting on the MXit platform.
On the face of it, MXit offers similar features to any other modern instant messaging client like WhatsApp. This includes a contact list, file transfers and photo sharing via a phone's built-in camera. However it goes one step further to support profile photos, tabbed conversations and message formatting. Features include support for themes, emoticons, and group chat, called MultiMX.
The UNICEF study found the most common topics on MXit are love lives and dating – two areas which are perhaps not addressed as much on the more public spheres of Facebook and micro-blogging site Twitter.
As with any online forum, there have been concerns over the safety of children using the network and potentially talking to strangers, although steps have been introduced to try and eliminate this. Parents have even blamed MXit for affecting their child’s exam results as students have spent too much time interacting and less time on homework.
But one thing is for certain, MXit will continue to grow. Will you be next to sign up?
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