SA mobile content start-up goes global

31 May 2012

Cape-based mobile application start-up Snapplify signed its first client on debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair, and has gone on to become one of Africa’s leading mobile app developers within the space of 12 months.

Most recently, the fledgling firm outshone its African rivals in a competition organised by mobile giant Nokia to come up with “societal, structural, financial and technological” ideas that could foster innovation leadership in Africa.

On Monday, as winner of the competition, Snapplify showcased its online platform to an audience of 105 of its peers, along with conference organisers Capgemini, infodev and Nokia, at the Open Innovation Africa Summit in Kenya.

Instantly digitising content for mobile

Snapplify’s turnkey online platform instantly digitises content for mobile devices, including iOS and Android, content producers or distributors such as authors, artists, publishers, retailers and corporates to manage, distribute and monetise content in custom-branded mobile applications.

Books, magazines and brochures are packaged into digital publications for branded mobile apps which are then distributed globally via the relevant app stores. Snapplify claims to be “the first to offer this kind of service to publishers at zero upfront cost”.

It hasn’t taken the company long to make global inroads. Following the launch in Frankfurt in October, it has set up a UK and South African office and has enjoyed an amazing run of success.

Global clients signed up include Peanuts creator Ka Boom Studios, leading Arabic content publisher Kotobarabia, New Holland Publishing SA, Random House Struik, and iMaverick, a daily magazine published only on iPad.

According to founder and CEO Wesley Lynch, Snapplify’s choice of mobile apps over physical magazines and books (or “e-pubs”) was critical to its success – “they are easier, more cost-effective and interactive”.

‘An immense hunger for going digital’

“There is an immense hunger for going digital. Every presentation [in Frankfurt] talked about it, but besides the larger players – publishers, retailers and device manufacturers – few had the strategy or knowledge to do it.

“It didn’t take much to see the enormous benefits of our solution for publishers in their current predicament. We told one publisher we could instantly repurpose their publication for iPad, and they gave us their content there and then.”

According to Lynch, one client, an academic institution, is converting textbooks into apps, describing it as “a much easier and affordable way to teach and learn”.

The company is working on enhancing the apps’ interactiveness, to allow publishers to add features such as quizzes or mobile colouring books, and is also looking to incorporate a social media component.

Next up for Snapplify: to represent Cape Town at the Barcelona Global Entrepreneurship Competition in June.

“It is an exciting time to be African, because we can make a global difference,” says Lynch. “Africa knows mobile, and it is through mobile that we will show the world what we’re capable of.”

SAinfo reporter