In 2008, 2Go messenger was released and only became popular in 2010. Ever since, the instant messaging app has come under heavy threat from other big guns like Whatsapp and Viber
The history of 2Go dates back to 2007 when the platform was initially designed as a means of sharing timetable and lectures notes amongst students of University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. In 2008, two founders of the startup left, leaving South African Alan Wolff and Ashley Peter who dramatically changed the concept of 2Go to an instant messaging application.
Being an app developed by Africans, there was the need for the platform to run on feature phones, which at that time formed the majority of mobile phone available to the African continent. This was one of the selling point of 2Go instant messenger. Unlike other messaging apps that required at least a mid-range smartphone to work, 2Go worked on Java phones even with the GPRS network.
With over 7 billion messages sent every month and close to 13 million users from Nigeria out of a total user base of 20 million, it seemed like it was going to be gloom all the way. However, things have changed. Mobile users in Africa have embraced smartphones, a move that was driven by Tecno who stormed the continent with cheap and affordable Android smartphones.
In June of 2013, the company released the Android version on Google Play Store and took eight months to reach a million downloads. Stats like this shows that the app has less appeal to smartphone users and this is where danger looms. NPD has predicted mobile users to overtake traditional PC users in 2016, if 2Go fails to gather enough momentum amongst smartphone users, it might just be the beginning of an end to one of Africa’s great innovation.
2Go may not appeal to Smartphone users, but you can’t take away the massive impact it has had on the African continent. Making new friends on the instant messaging app was very easy. All you have to do is join a group in your location and in no time, you would be connecting with people who later become friends and having high possibility of meeting up.
The app also gave incentive to keep chatting, as you continue sending those messages, your star level sees a rise. Most users see this as a bragging right, hence the continuous usage of app.
Could this still be happening? A stroll into my 2Go account with over four hundred friends will reveal a near worse situation. I had monitored my account for two months and the most number of friends online stood at 7-10. At the same time a year ago, that figure could be anywhere around 200. Stats like this could only mean that users have found other alternatives and 2Go instant messaging app could be set to hit a download spiral.
Do you think 2Go can survive another five years?