A continent in shift to smartphones

Africa is a continent of contrasts, not only in economics and nature, but also with telecommunications and web access. While a large number of African mobile internet users still are on basic phones, the transition to smartphones is well underway. In this State of the Mobile Web report, we take a quick look at the usage trends of mobile internet users in South Africa.

The smartphone adoption trend is clear: the number of South African Android users of Opera Mini has increased by more than 324% over the past twelve months, as counted on a monthly basis. While the number of basic phone users is still increasing, the number of smartphone users has grown much more rapidly, with the overall growth of Opera Mini users in South Africa clocking in at more than 32% over the same timespan. In short, the percentage increase in smartphone users is more than ten times the increase in all users combined.

While most of the South African devices in use are entry-level phones like the Samsung Pocket, among others, similar increases in Android use can be seen across the continent, as a number of low-cost handsets come into the market. Nokia remains the most widely used handset, however, with its entry-level phone —  the Nokia X2 01 — taking the top position in number of new unique Opera Mini users.

Search is central in mobile browsing

For South Africans, search is still the most popular site category among Opera Mini users. Getting information quickly and in a handy manner seems to be more important for South Africans, as the informational site Wikipedia is also high up on the top-ten list of visited internet sites in South Africa.

The launch of Opera for Android has lead to an increase in social networking, due to social notifications on the Smart Page and has seen tremendous pick-up.

Opera Mini, across all of the platforms on which it runs, has saved African mobile web users an estimated total of more than US$1 billion in data costs over the past year. This is due to Opera Mini's ability to shrink down webpages before they hit the phone, while retaining all of the functionality of the mobile site being visited. Opera Mini can compress visited webpages down to 10% of their original size. On a continent where a lot of mobile data traffic is prepaid  — and expensive  — Opera Mini’s compression can be a real money saver for mobile internet customers in Africa.

The top-ten domains visited by South Africans over the past twelve months were as follows:

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Wikipedia
  4. YouTube
  5. Yahoo
  6. BlogSpot
  7. Mxit
  8. ZAMob
  9. Twitter
  10. Dictionary.com

Growth

In September 2013, the consumer base of the Opera mobile browsers had more than 261 million unique users. The Opera Mini servers (which do not process pages from Mobile Classic and Opera for Android browsers) served more than 168 billion pages and compressed over 15 petabytes of data for Opera Mini users. In all, 38% of the total users of the Opera mobile browsers are using smartphones to browse the web. Compared to September 2012, the user base of Opera’s mobile browsers combined grew by more than 26%, year over year.

Number of mobile product users

In September 2013, there were over 261 million users of Opera's mobile browsers. Out of this number, 21 million were Opera for Android, Mobile Classic and Skyfire users globally, and the rest were Opera Mini users. Compared to September 2012, the user base of Opera’s mobile browsers combined grew by 26%, year over year.

Month

Opera Mini

Total mobile product users (millions)

Jul '11

122

143

Aug '11

129

150

Sep '11

131

153

Oct '11

140

162

Nov '11

145

167

Dec '11

153

176

Jan '12

159

183

Feb '12

160

184

Mar '12

169

193

Apr '12

166

190

May '12

179

196

Jun '12

182

200

Jul '12

187

206

Aug '12

191

210

Sep '12

188

208

Oct '12

194

215

Nov '12

195

216

Dec '12

208

229

Jan '13

215

237

Feb '13

207

228

Mar '13

225

249

Apr '13

224

247

May '13

230

255

Jun '13

230

251

Jul '13

239

260

Aug '13

243

264

Sept '13

240

261

Opera Mini pages transcoded

Opera Mini users viewed over 168 billion pages in September 2013. Since September 2012, page views have increased by 44%.

Month

Pages transcoded per month (billions)

Jul '11

74

Aug '11

80

Sep '11

79

Oct '11

86

Nov '11

89

Dec '11

103

Jan '12

109

Feb '12

108

Mar '12

117

Apr '12

109

May '12

114

Jun '12

115

Jul '12

117

Aug '12

122

Sep '12

116

Oct '12

127

Nov '12

131

Dec '12

144

Jan '13

157

Feb '13

147

Mar '13

171

Apr '13

166

May '13

176

Jun '13

171

Jul '13

178

Aug '13

177

Sept '13

168

Opera Mini data consumed

In September 2013, Opera Mini users generated over 3.7 billion MB of data for operators worldwide. Data in the Opera Mini browser is compressed by up to 90%. If this data were uncompressed, Opera Mini users would have viewed over 15 petabytes of data in September. Since September 2012, data traffic has risen by more than 67%.

Month

Total data consumed per month (millions of MB)

Jul '11

1171

Aug '11

1232

Sep '11

1251

Oct '11

1360

Nov '11

1422

Dec '11

1664

Jan '12

1831

Feb '12

1917

Mar '12

1918

Apr '12

1907

May '12

1983

Jun '12

2016

Jul '12

2110

Aug '12

2215

Sep '12

2216

Oct '12

2406

Nov '12

2447

Dec '12

2777

Jan '13

2914

Feb '13

2711

Mar '13

3149

Apr '13

3158

May '13

3401

Jun '13

3399

Jul '13

3597

Aug '13

3758

Sept '13

3712