By Prince Osuagwu
FEMI Olanrewaju is an early adopter. He was one of the first Nigerians to buy a mobile phone when the revolution in the telecoms sector began in 2001. Olanrewaju was not a tech addict. Rather, he was one who always sought products and services that would make his life easier and his business better. Olanrewaju has had challenges with his weight: been slightly on the obese side and also suffers from osteoporosis, a disease of the bone that has greatly affected his mobility.
Back then, Olanrewaju’s mobile phone was helpful in his vocation as a marketer. The voice and text functions on his mobile were helpful in greatly reducing the amount of movement he had to make. Sadly it didn’t quite save him from the troubles he was trying to avoid. He still had to make painful trips to the cyber cafe to check and send emails. Just as he had to go to the hospital frequently for his checks and he still had to travel a lot for meetings. This was because the first generation of mobile phones were not “smart”. They had limited processing and memory speeds.
Processing and memory speeds
The first apps were very basic and limited in what they could do. Calendar, calculator, world clock and contact book, basic monochromic games (Snake, Tetris, Tic-tac-toe, pong among others) as well as monophonic ringtone editor are samples of the earliest apps mobile phone makers developed.
Soon though, as the phones became smarter, users like Olanrewaju could do more with their phones than call, send sms or play boring monochromic 2D games. They could now send and receive emails via their phones, thanks to the mobile internet capability that was creating a seismic shift.
With the launch of Apple’s iphone in 2008, technology companies and internet service providers began driving the shift from voice-call-oriented Telco 1.5 to the data-and-digital focused Telco 2.0.
The internet and apps
Although there is no one universal way of defining Telco 2.0, it is safe to describe it as digital services that harness the power of mobile devices by infusing it with the power of the internet.
Users like Olanrewaju started getting value for their investment when Sun Microsystems developed the Java Operating System (OS) which quickly became the backbone of several mobile applications in the first generation of mobile devices. Symbian Limited also came devised the Symbian Operating System that grew to become the most popular smartphone OS on a worldwide average until the end of 2010 (with 250 million devices running the Symbian by 2009) when it was overtaken by Android, an open source platform now used by many developers. Research in Motion (RIM), creators of the immensely popular Blackberry devices also made a huge contribution to the way the mobile app is now being regarded now with its introduction of the email enterprise system in 2002.
Before 2008, mobile users used basic apps for various purposes such as chat apps to complex scientific calculators and loads of fantastic games. However users were not spoilt for choice. They were limited to the apps that were bundled unto their mobile devices. However, Apple blazed the trail by creating the iStore in 2008 and thus opened the floodgates for the various app stores and shared platforms like Blackberry app world, Google play store, Mobogenie, and MTN Nextapp stores to flourish.
The mobile lifeline: Apps make life easier. There is the popular BBM that allow users to chat, share files and even call over the internet, and there is the Facebook app, the Twitter app and several apps that make it easier for internet users to consume the web content without stress. But what if there was a real time utility app that delivers several unique contents that are tailored to improve an individual’s life?
That is exactly what the BetterMe app is set out to do. The app is powered by Nigeria’s leading ICT company, MTN, to help Nigerians optimize the power of the internet to do extraordinary things that make for a better life. As is very well known, there is no end to the possibilities offered by the internet and given the talent and innovativeness of Nigerians coupled with the opportunities provided by access to the internet, we are bound to witness many individuals attain greater heights and do a whole lot of things faster and better with less effort.
The app is uniquely built to provide easy access to a world of digital content and offers subscribers a single platform to access, view and share loads of lifestyle content, among many others.
In order to help users even get the best of the app, MTN launched three different internet data bundle offerings for customers early in the year. The bundles offer customers discounted offerings for voice, sms and data services thus giving customers cheaper and easier access to the Internet.
Before now, there were few multi-content-delivery apps that is, if it is a business app, it delivers strictly business content, while an entertainment app delivers strictly entertainment content. And if it is a ‘time waster app’, it does exactly that. On the other hand, the BetterMe app combines all the top performing categories of apps on one platform, yet its user-interface is not cumbersome. It saves them the trouble of switching from one app to another, while also easing the burden on the device OS. In fact, it is one a one stop app that has the capacity of helping users track their New Year resolutions.
Commenting on these fine aspects of the BetterMe app, Fola Akinmolayan, chief executive officer of Neo2 Ltd, an indigenous company that built the app, said that MTN’s value propositions will help Nigerians every step of the way to become better farmers, doctors, teachers, traders, students and many other professional fields.
“The platform is also intuitive in that it’s able to provide alerts about events around and related to the New Year. For us, we weren’t going to recreate another productivity app. We saw the need in the market that there was just too much information and the need to help people curate and distil this information to manageable chunks which they can use to become better people. Information fuels ideas and ideas rule the world. If you don’t have the right information, you don’t know it,” Akinmolayan said.
Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN provides an informed perspective for assessing the Betterme campaign. He said:“BetterMe is a simple equation, myself as an ordinary Nigerian plus the power of the Internet that is the leverage, the connection and the opportunity that comes with the Internet will make you become a better me. BetterMe is a new social lexicon that defines an ordinary Nigerian who leverages the power of the Internet to do extraordinary things. It is that ordinary mechanic by Obalende Bridge who has become a master in fixing Honda cars, not because he has gone to any school, but because he knows how to go to the Honda website and check the latest trends from Honda, hence attracting more customers, reducing the time he serves the market and making more money for himself,” Adekanmbi quips.
Now 2015, and thanks to the rapid evolution in the telecommunications industry, Olanrewaju is now a better businessman, he does not travel as much as he used to fourteen years ago.