Mxit was once South Africa’s most popular app

Something called Mxit was once South Africa’s biggest messaging-based social networking app. Thousands of users called it their mobile home. Friendships were formed (and destroyed) with the app – and then it went away.

South Africans might still have memories of this app.

Whatever happened to Mxit?

The networking app came to our screens in 2005, though some sources list the date as 2003. Who still remembers this once-popular social network?

It was famous almost immediately. Today, it’s as obscure as MySpace – though MySpace didn’t close.

it’s even referenced in the song ‘Mengelmoeskardoes’.

Here’s where the app started – and where it went.

A history of Mxit

Mxit was cheaper than sending an SMS.

Investor Herman Heunis invented it, using his tech background.

It changed how South Africans communicate, by making messages fly across screens per-second.

Everyone had the app, including teenagers and adults. Parents used Mxit to talk to their children. The app helped people date, connect, meet, and talk. Prayer groups even used it to meet with faithful followers.

It also had its dangers.

Many internet meetings went badly, and some led to crimes.

Other networks got more popular, and new apps were easier to use.

Subscribers went down after this. Mxit closed, finally, in 2015. Only 1.2 million users still used it, compared to over 10 million at its peak.

Today, it’s closer to a relic than to a popular app.

It’s become something people can tell their grandchildren about.

Other social networks

Other social networks started stealing the tech giant’s thunder. Partially this is what led to its eventual decline, as subscribers left one network to join another one.

Older apps seemed ancient compared to WhatsApp.

South Africans first saw WhatsApp in 2009.

It was an immediate alternative to other networks, popular for the same reasons that earlier apps were.

WhatsApp is easy and safe, letting you ‘add’ someone with a phone number. There’s even a version for business, made to ease customer connection.

Tell us!

Did you have this popular social message app?

Tell us what you think about this story. Let us know your memories about the once-famous South African app. Send an e-mail to info@thesouthafrican.com and let us know your opinion.


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