Mobile operator Vodacom has just released its interim six month financial results for March to September this year, and in among the numbers there’s some fascinating stats about the uptake of smartphones in South Africa and across the continent as a whole.
According to the report, data traffic across the Vodacom network is up 80% on the same period in 2012, a massive leap driven by several causes. Firstly, there are a 1.3 million more smartphones on the Vodacom network now, bringing the total to 6.6 million. Secondly, people are consuming 79% more data per handset each too.
If those two numbers don’t quite add up, remember that smartphones aren’t the only devices that use data. One intriguing stat from the report is that there are almost as many machines chattering autonomously over the Vodacom network as there are iPhones and Android phones in South Afrrica: there’s 6.1 million ‘M2M connections’ across its international operations (M2M = machine to machine in techie jargon).
Welcome to the internet of things, soon to be bigger than the internet of non-things.
Elsewhere in the results, things are largely positive for Vodacom in terms of the amount of money its making in Africa (6.6% up in terms of raw revenue, profit before tax and deductions up 9.6%, total profit up 8.4% to R6.6bn).
There’s one other set of stats that intrigue us, though – the massive level of ‘churn’ on pre-pay services. Churn describes the number of customers lost over a particular period. While Vodacom gained a net 300 000 customers on prepay contracts, and 100 000 on post-pay, over the six month period the churn levels are astronomical.
A massive 63.7% of pre-pay customers in South Africa disconnected at one time or another. It’s likely that many also came back – since overall subsribers numbers are up – and as such not a reflection on Vodacom per se. As an educated guess, it shows just how price sensitive SA customers are, and how happy they are to ditch their SIM cards as soon as they see a slightly more beneficial deal.