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[August 29, 2014]
IOL Mobile a 'leapfrog' in technology [DFA (South Africa)]
(DFA (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) INDEPENDENT Media, the publishers of the DFA, has set the cat among the digital pigeons with the launch of what it calls a "leapfrog" in technology with a new, advanced IOL Mobile for smartphones.
The new product - www.iolmobile.co.za - goes live today at an official launch for company employees by the company's executive chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé.
The product will run in tandem with Independent Media's news website, www.iol.co.za, and will offer simplicity in design and top class speed and responsiveness for both viewing and navigation on smartphones.
IOL Mobile was designed to stay true to the company's new brand promise of placing the reader first and celebrating individuality. The technology team's goal was to create a reading experience so absorbing and enjoyable that the technology involved fades into the background.
Survé said the new platform would enable consumers across South Africa and the African continent to get a full news experience on their smartphones and will enable advertisers to have access to a broader market. Independent Media will include IOL Mobile advertising as part of an ad bundle which will cover print, digital and mobile.
Chief Digital Officer Anthony Robinson said research indicates that the responsiveness or speed of a site is the primary requirement for smartphone users, while readers are seeking simplicity in navigation and design. IOL Mobile offers all of this and its users will be able to click or swipe between articles and sections, quickly and easily.
IOL Mobile has been benchmarked against the leading international news sites and has been undergoing stringent "beta testing" in-house to ensure quality and reliability, added Robinson.
Survé paid tribute to the in-house development team (part of the Sekunjalo group, new owners of Independent Media) for bringing IOL Mobile to market in just four months and, he said, on a budget which would be "embarassing" for global players because it was so small.
Survé said a deliberate decision had been taken to do the development of the service within the Sekunjalo group of companies, because local developers could focus on the product's unique South African needs and because costs could be controlled.
"What Anthony and his team have done is produce world-class technology: it is, in fact, being used by The Telegraph in London and we are negotiating to sell it to other major international media groups," he said.
He added: "This shows that South Africa has the capability to become a technology base and the fact we have been able to do this project entirely in-house, without outsourcing, gives us a tremendous advantage over our competitors".
IOL Mobile will enable Independent Media not only to catch up to its competitors but to overtake them, said Survé.
"It proves that we are a 'frontier company' and that we are well on track to becoming the leading media technology company in Africa." IOL Mobile is part of a range of developments which Independent Media will be rolling out over the next few months, and which are aimed at providing news to the exploding South African and African smartphone market, as well as augmenting current print and digital offerings.
Smartphones are already the devices most Africans use to access the Internet, said Robinson and it will not be long before we see statistics like those in the United States, where the majority of people spend more time on their smartphones than they do watching TV or using their tablets and other computer devices.
Survé said that when the consortium headed by Sekunjalo had carried out its "due diligence" examination of the Independent group in South Africa prior to making an offer for it to the Irish owners, its overseas advisers, Citibank, were amazed at how far behind the company lagged in the technology field.
"That was seen as both a gap, but also as an opportunity," he said.
Through its other investments in Africa and around the world, Sekunjalo was committed to improving access to broadband connectivity across Africa, said Survé.
He would not be drawn about the company's strategy, remarking that "we believe in action, not words - and as we roll out our plans, people will see that action".
DFA (c) 2014 Independent Newspapers (Pty) Limited. All rights strictly reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).
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