Vidi dies, ra­dio lives on, and What­sApp slays

CityPress - - Trending - Gar­reth.van­niek­erk@city­

Sub­scribers weren’t no­ti­fied this week when Vidi – Times Me­dia Group’s R160-a-month video-on-de­mand ser­vice – was shut down. A no­tice on the Vidi web­site sim­ply says that the ser­vice is no longer avail­able af­ter Jan­uary 26 2016.

“Vidi is trans­form­ing. Watch this space for com­ing de­tails.”

The clo­sure should come as no sur­prise af­ter Times Me­dia Group par­ent com­pany Tiso Black­star’s CEO, An­drew Bon­amour, told Busi­ness Day last year that Vidi had not proved suc­cess­ful and they would be “ex­it­ing” af­ter a year. But no one ex­pected their “exit” to be quite so abrupt, par­tic­u­larly those pay­ing for the ser­vice.

TECH More than 10 mil­lion South Africans helped the What­sApp mes­sen­ger ser­vice reach its 1 bil­lionth

VIDI monthly ac­tive user mark this week (de­spite the re­cent dec­la­ra­tion of war against it from MTN and Vo­da­com). What­sApp isn’t alone. Gmail also be­came part of the 1 bil­lion club this week. Very few web ser­vices en­joy this kind of trac­tion – only Face­book, Google search, Chrome (both mo­bile and desk­top), Google Maps, YouTube, Google’s An­droid (and there­fore also Google Play) are on the list.

What­sApp also an­nounced re­cently that it would be drop­ping its $1 (R16) ser­vice fee, as it was ham­per­ing the prod­uct’s growth in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, so ex­pect user num­bers to rise in the fu­ture. Sup­port­ing 700 ra­dio sta­tions world­wide, and with a grow­ing ac­tive user base of 5 500, Ra­dioVybe might not be in the same league as Spo­tify or, but its five-year plan to grow users to 150 mil­lion, with more than 2 mil­lion ra­dio sta­tions and broad­cast­ers, might soon be a re­al­ity. The free stream­ing ser­vice, which calls it­self a so­cial net­work for on­line ra­dio and mu­sic lovers, has been co­founded by a Nige­rian, his brother and two South Africans, and runs out of a house in Rood­e­poort. The am­bi­tious team said this week that it be­lieved that “the busi­ness could achieve rev­enue of R23.3 bil­lion by 2021”.

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