AndroidZA was invited to officially attend the launch of Africa’s newest mobile messaging platform with a twist, Zing by blazingchilli.
Zing is designed as a multi-platform system that allows users to chat to one another. So what makes Zing different to other chat systems popular in Africa such as Mxit? We anser that and more below:
Blazingchilli, the company behind Zing was started by founder, Jason Perthel … a man with a vision … to be the hotest player in a hot exciting environment, and there coins the name, blazingchilli. Perthel is not a man who sits around waiting for answers, he is focused and driven, and admits to working his staff to the bone. Of course they all enjoy having him as a boss, so he must be doing something right. Perthel admitted to driving his employees with an interesting set of foundations for his software:
Thanks to these requirements and the pressures given, a Beta of the app was built in 2 months, and was brought to market in 5 months, launching in February 2012.
Blazingchilli’s Technical Director is none other then Ken Jarvis, acclaimed ex CIO of the South African Revenue Services, responsible for the turn around of SARS from 2002 – 2006. Jarvis comes across as extreme tech futurist who thinks out the box. Just one of his viewpoints are that in the future, banks as we know them will be no more, a 10 year old today is more used to internet purchasing than cash, and most likely does not know what a cheque is. Clearly, Jarvis is a forward thinker and definitely out the box.
Thus it can be seen that Zing is headed up by an excellent team, with forward thinking abilities and whom want to bring something new to the table. And so they have created Zing, with an initial focus on the African market and targeting the low LSM market.
The name Zing is coined from “Zen” and boils down to focusing in Community within Communication and as Perthel put it, “Being in a state of Zing”. The focus on community is a major driver behind Zing, and one which parts it from it’s biggest rival, What’s App. Zing is all about easy communication with one, or many people and includes various features to facilitate this.
Brett Loubser, head of Mobile Strategy, has admitted to receiving a lot of feedback from members of the press and technical community, asking what is the point of another messaging app. His answer is simple, “There is always space for a better product”.
Four key areas of focus of Zing:
- The ability to talk to everyone, and not create a Niche market.
- The ability to reach an infinite audience, one who is not limited to Smart Phones only (i.e. Working on feature phones).
- Ensuring that software for Smartphones is not neglected, but neither is software for feature phones.
- A consistent user experience across all platforms, whether it be Java, Android, Apple or Blackberry.
- The primary market is Africa, thus a very price sensitive audience.
- Due to price sensitivity, the software needs to be extremely data efficient.
- A reward system is in place to reward users for clicking on adverts (more on this below).
- Ability to redeem points for airtime (Only in South Africa for now) and media.
- Advertising relevence is key to the picture. The phone sends the requests for advert types to the server, rather then the server checking the users keywords.
- Zones are information channels available to users.
- For now, there are only basic zones available, but as the user base increases, so will the zone content.
- The flexibility of what the zones are capable of is astounding, especially as zones can be either 1 way broadcasts, or bidirectional communication allowing for surveys, portals, polls and the ability to chat to a client base.
- There will be an API developed for the future allowing companies to interact with Zones.
- The ability for closed (ring-fenced) zones for enterprises to communicate to employees only. Or many other purposes, such as clubs and their members, etc.
- Zones may even be created for bloggers and content creators who request their own Zones to get their message out, and even for the possibility of revenue sharing.
- The design of the Zones area is undergoing a complete revamp from its current website feel, to a proper in-app portal.
4. Mobile Group Messaging
- The ability to create custom groups in order to chat to groups of friends, or other groups as necessary.
- Designed to make communication to multiple people as easy as possible.
Zing, and its Advertising Twist:
Perthel was very insistent on the idea that Zing is centred around it’s User Base, as without them, there is no one to delivery content to, and with this in mind, the advert system is designed to be as minimally intrusive as possible. This also includes not allowing exclusitivity to any one advertiser in a particular industry.
As many may already know, Zing offers a rewards system to it’s users to view adverts. Incentivised advertising systems have been tried before, with dismal results … so what makes Zing different?
Well, for one, not every advert is incentivised. Advertisers can choose the frequency of the rewards they offer, as well as a range of variables around when and how the rewards are displayed.
Secondly, the biggest aim of the advertising system will be to ensure the advertisers message is heard, thus it is looked at from a Branding perspective instead of a click through perspective. If you don’t think this is ideal, then think TV and Print media, where advertisers pay countless fortunes just in the hopes some people will look at their message.To ensure the message is received, a user first has to click on the mini banner, then on confirmation to read the advertisers message and finally has to wait for the full message to load before receiving the reward. A 3 step process.
Thirdly, the system is more targeted, as advertising is relevent to the users content experience and the user reads the message before they get their reward. Imagine Steers advertising with a reward at 11:30am on a Wednesday that today is Wacky Wednesday, and suddenly you see the message sinking into more peoples’ heads and they head over to Steers for lunch time.
Other minor points:
Some other point’s worth mentioning are firstly, that Zing offers 3 states for messages. A flashing orange dot for sent, a solid orange dot for delivered, and a solid green dot for Read … something What’s App does not offer.
Secondly, although Push Messaging is on the cards to be delivered in the short term to Android devices supporting Google Push and Apple devices. And for a company that believes the long term in the mobile environment is only 3 months, and not needing 1 year to evaluate their position such as other companies (Reference is to Alan Knot Craig Junior and Mxit for those that do not know), then one can imagine that a short term outlook is not far away at all.
In the longer term, once a larger user base is built up, Zing will offer the ability to use encryption on corporate accounts, which is especially useful for closed (ring-fenced) zones. This will however, not be an option for consumers, at least not for now, as encryption requires more data and processing speeds.
With this in mind, it can be seen that Zing is launching with a bang, and even a buck, and it is one to keep your eyes on. Zing is initially launching in 15 English speaking African countries and Australia, with a further 21 countries in Africa and Europe being added into the pool by March 31 as the software is translated into French and Portuguese.