You hear a lot of m-this and m-that, and sometime we wonder can we get another name for these mobile apps. Mobile apps are great and it is encouraging that Kenya is among the top apps producing nation in the world.. can you believe it. Yeah we are that good. The only question always in my mind is how many of these apps are geared towards making money?
In the last few months Mobile Monday management decided to allow the guys with local apps to come forward and showcase their fine creations. True to the word many developers came forward and they did not disappoint. Excellent apps with downloads running into thousands and hundred of thousands. The only problem is people don’t eat downloads. That might come out badly but we came to realize that, it might be true when a guy whom i can’t even remember his name came in and presented his tours and travel app on the ovistore and blow everyone off with the amount of money he is making from the people downloading his app. The different between this unknown guy’s downloads and the other more popular downloads is that he is charging for every download made. I would rather have only 100 dowanloads with people paying Ksh.10 rather than have 100k dowanloads with people paying nothing.
Most of the time I think that with the free downloaded app, the end game is to have some rich company or investors to buy out the developer after sometime. For that to happen the app has to be very popular, and i mean very popular.If you can’t get it to that high level then put some amount on your app, for heaven sake. make even a cent after a year. Better.
Why are the local apps not geared towards mcommerce?
Yes the answer to that at the moment is beyond my paygrade, but i will throw that question back to you, yes you reader. Mobile commerce (aka “m-commerce”) refers to consumers shopping through mobile payment system. The most popular in Kenya is Mpesa followed by Airtel money and others like yuCash and orange Money. In the last few days i have been constantly looking for an m-commerce app. This is not about a website with ecommerce function and transacted through Mpesa or mobile payment system. No, i have been looking for a version of a company’s webpage that is designed to fit within the constraints of a cell phone. We call them apps, so i will stick to that. Where are they?
Something is not adding up. Although Mobile Money payment has provided widely available electronic network and payment mechanism in Kenya, mcommerce in its true sense is yet to take off in a big way. Popular companies like Dealfish still can’t make money online, and still wondering what to do next. I know people will talk about paying bills, such us electricity bill to Kenyapower but my experience with that is not that good. If your electricity is going to be cut today and you pay via Mpesa, believe me it will be cut because it takes two days before that transaction is reflected on the system. For that, you better walk there and pay for the electricity in cash. Now compare that with when i want to buy domains through credit card and it takes only a click of button and the speed of the internet and i have the domain purchased.
Now we all know that one of the biggest hindrance to mcommerce in Kenya is Safaricom or Vodafone or whoever is in charge there. The exact point is their refusal to come up with Mpesa API. Again i don’t understand why the Safaricom guys are not giving this a serious thought but i believe that on top of revolutionizing mcommerce in Kenya and beyond, this could be one great cash cow for them. Yes, i know about those Mpesa APIs you have read about around but don’t believe any of them unless they can prove that they can access Safaricom or Vodafone server. And the true API for Mpesa will definitely come from Safaricom or Vodafone. …..Dear Bob Collymore if you ever read this,give us your thoughts on this as i believe it is a matter of National importance. …sssssshhhh.
That aside why are the developers not using the other network if Safaricom is so rigid to accept change which actually will internally help them? Big mystery. I find most companies in Kenya very funny, most of them are not willing to take risks and be the first ones to try and test something. Whenever you take something new to them, the first question you get is who else is using it. Damn it people, why can’t you be the first one to you use it!!!!!!!!!