Releasing an update of their South African Social Media Landscape 2014 report, the researchers said a recent survey of adult cellphone users living in South Africa’s cities and towns indicated that at least 10.6-million urban adults were using WhatsApp.
The release of the findings follow Wednesday’s announcement that the world’s biggest social media network, Facebook, is to acquire WhatsApp for US$19-billion as its seeks to consolidate its domination of both social media and instant messaging.
Facebook still dominant
According to the World Wide Worx/Fuseware survey, Facebook remains the dominant social network on local phones, with 45% – or 9-million South Africans – using it on their mobile devices at the end of 2013.
“Total Facebook use in South Africa was at about 11-million at the end of 2013, putting it marginally ahead of WhatsApp – for now,” the researchers said.
“Future expectations expressed by respondents indicate that WhatsApp will rise to 63% penetration in the next 12-18 months, while Facebook’s mobile penetration will rise more moderately, to 53%.”
Mxit, BBM, Twitter, Google+
The previous darling of the South African instant messaging market, Mxit, remains stable, and is used by 25% of adults, with the figure expected to rise to 29% in the next 12-18 months.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) also continues to grow, the survey found, and is now used by 21% of adults, “with the figure potentially reaching 28% if BlackBerry is able to maintain its handset sales momentum in South Africa”.
Twitter has reached 20% of the adult market, with expectations of it rising to 30% in the next 12 to 18 months.
Two up-and-coming social apps also appear in the survey: Cape Town-based 2Go now has 8% penetration, expected to rise to 14%, while Chinese service WeChat, launched in South Africa in mid-2013, has reached 5% of the market, and is expected to rise to 13%.