COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: October 2007

SA companies make waves in global mobile technology market

October 2007

With an estimated 2,15 billion people around the globe now owning cellphones, the race is on as companies look for opportunities to target the mobile generation.

There are a growing number of South African companies whose local talents and expertise in the field of mobile application technology are now being used in lucrative markets offshore.
According to Simon Leps, CEO of Cape Town-based mobile software development company Fontera, there is a strong base of highly skilled technical professionals in South Africa who are at the forefront of mobile technology, rivalling the best in the world in terms of grasping the possibilities of the mobile age.
Leps says there are a number of reasons for the international success of local companies in this sector.
"I think the main advantage is that we are able to deliver innovative and reliable first world products and services at lower prices than a lot of other countries," says Leps. With the current rand/dollar exchange rate, the cost of setting up infrastructure and employing quality staff can be done for roughly 40% of the cost that it would so do so in the US.
Leps says that the success of online specialists such as online gaming firms Forwardslash, Microgaming and Vegas Kings as well as mobile companies like iTouch that was started in SA and listed on the LSE in 2000 are other good examples of how South African digital technology companies are achieving abroad.
Leps, who divides his time between the companies' offices in Atlanta, London and Cape Town says Fontera has recently signed deals with leading media houses, football clubs and telecommunication companies in the US, UK and Australia.
"For example, we have finalised contracts with the Houston Chronicle and New Jersey Star Ledger newspapers as well as Apartments.com to mobilise their classified advertisements - primarily their real estate, merchandise and automobile sections. We have also run mobile campaigns for Budweiser, LG Mobile and SonyEricsson in the USA and Europe," Leps adds.
The company is also set to challenge some of the world's leading social networking platforms through the launch of www.mobimii.com (pronounced mobi-me) - developed right here in South Africa. It is a cross platform mobile social utility that allows users to access their favourite mobile Internet and social networking sites via their cellphones.
Mobimii follows hot on the heels of the recent success obtained by web-based networks like Myspace and Facebook, but it goes one step further by allowing users to upload and download unlimited mobile content, chat, share images or video-clips.
In July, the company launched an application that allows Facebook users to send free SMS messages to their friends all over the world. Called Nudgemii, the application - used by thousands - effectively integrates Facebook's existing poke functionality with text messaging by allowing users to send short text messages (of up to 70 characters) as a nudge to their Facebook friends worldwide.


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