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Big year for SA’s mobile content, app developers

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South Africa’s mobile content and applications market will this year create incremental economic opportunities for developers in the country, according to the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA).

The industry body says economic opportunities that will be created as a result of increased adoption of mobile apps include employment creation, efficiency gains, cost reduction, revenue generation, collaboration and innovation.

WASPA says it expects an uptick in both mobile app development by its almost 300 members and consumption by SA’s over 22 million smartphone users.

The news comes as global mobile spending is expected to hit $380 billion in 2020.

According to app analytics and app data industry firm App Annie, mobile app spending and usage hit a record in 2019 and there are no signs of tapering off this year as faster cellular connections and more big-name video streaming services come online.

Turning to SA, WASPA says cheaper data and higher incomes will be the catalysts to lift the app market in 2020.

The Competition Commission (CompCom) last month stunned SA’s leading telcos, MTN and Vodacom, by recommending they reduce their mobile data pricing by half.

WASPA says the CompCom’s market inquiry into mobile data pricing found a failure of free competition in the local mobile data market. While the mobile networks are still digesting the implications of the regulator’s report, it is likely mobile data prices will continue the steady decline that began some time ago.

Greg Brophy, WASPA chairman, says: “Basic economics says reducing the price of goods and services will increase their consumption. More affordable mobile data will mean greater consumption of data-intensive mobile services and this will, in turn, spur WASPA’s members to develop an even greater variety of mobile content and applications for use on smartphones.

“There could be interesting implications here for app development as a solid career choice in South Africa.”

Moreover, WASPA says the economy could experience a subtle boost from the increased local development and consumption of apps, which make everything from learning to travelling more efficient.

The association says it previously highlighted the positive relationship between economic growth and cellular usage that increasingly comprises less voice access and more data-intensive app interaction.

According to WASPA, the worldwide GSM Association has found that every doubling of mobile data use typically adds 0.5 percentage points to the gross domestic product (GDP).

Additionally, WASPA says incomes available for app consumption are on the up.

“Average take-home pay actually transferred to employee bank accounts in October 2019 reached the R16 000 level for the first time, according to the BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index.”

WASPA explains the other benefit for the local mobile content and app development market comes in the form of Consumer Price Inflation “currently being at its lowest level in eight years, delivering an added boost to disposable incomes and likely voice and data consumption in 2020”.

The organisation believes app development is the next mobile frontier.

“Like value-added services before them, apps are the new favourites to boost average revenue per user. Greater app uptake has been proven to positively impact every economic indicator important to a developing economy, from employment to GDP growth,” it said in a statement.

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