iROKOtv goes mobile only in Africa, shuts down desktop service

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Nigerian video-on-demand (VoD) startup iROKOtv has announced it is shutting down its desktop service for African users, focusing on a mobile-only experience.

iROKOtv founder Jason Njoku said the startup will from now on be focusing on discovery and download to watch offline, as 3G infrastructure made streaming difficult in an African context.

Globally, where 85 per cent of iROKOtv’s revenues and subscribers lie, desktop will remain intact as streaming has worked with no problems, but in Africa the company will essentially retire the .com, with only existing African subscribers having continued access to the website.

“Discovery and download to watch offline will be our new experience. 3G infrastructure really struggles to capture the customer experience,” Njoku said.

He said iROKOtv was banking on increased mobile penetration in Africa to make its new approach successful, with 76 per cent of its users coming via mobile internet.

“Android has taken time to take root but is comfortably on the way to becoming the dominant operating system in Nigeria and Africa,” Njoku said.

“I spent the best part of 2014 speaking to telcos across Africa and their data is unequivocal. Android will own Africa. There is no data point which shows me any of the ISPs in Africa will change that reality. I can’t think of any ISP with more than one million users. Combined, I doubt there are one million ISP customers in Nigeria. Mobile is what mobile does.”

He said with this new mobile focus on mind, iROKOtv had been rebuilding its product and engineering teams. For Njoku, the mobile-first reality is the only way forward for iROKOtv.

“If Nigerian internet is mobile, the internet TV company which wins needs to go mobile. It needs to embrace and build for that apparently simple, yet incredibly complicated, reality,” he said.

“From content, to pricing, to access, to product development, to distribution, to everything. It all needs to be re-thought, imagined and the operating system required for this reality is Android. Pure and simple.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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