[Analysis] Kenya’s Most Searched Mobile Apps In The Google Zeitgeist 2013

It just came to my attention a couple of hours ago that the edition of the Google Zeitgeist had been released to the public as has become customary over the last few years. More specifically, of special interest for me as has been the case in the past was looking at the more searched topics and trends for Kenya.

The full list can be accessed at the Google Zeitgeist web site here which for some reason takes very long to load and is surprisingly not that user-friendly(?) – we just want the list but it seems Google threw in all the bells and whistles! However, what is pretty cool is that you can embed or share the findings directly (as I have done below).

In looking at the lists, which most of the Kenyan media would have re-published by tomorrow one gets a sense of fairly obvious and not so obvious search trends and topics. However, for me, what caught my attention as per embed below were the most searched for mobile apps in Kenya in 2013:

Google Zeitgeist 2013 for Mobile Apps in Kenya

In terms of most searched mobile apps in Kenya, I am not entirely surprised that WhatsApp ruled the roost in terms Google searches. As in, everyone I know including their Brother, Sister, Dad, Mum, Maid and Askari seems to be on WhatsApp on these days – seriously! The fact that WhatsApp runs on feature phones and smartphones is the really clever meaning that it’s almost as ubiquitous SMS itself. Clearly the data pipes at Safaricom, Airtel and Orange are being kept flowing thanks to WhatsApp.

The fact that Google Maps was second is somewhat surprising meaning that people are installing the mobile app to find their way around all parts of Kenya as roads get re-done on an almost daily basis wherever you go. Skype for VOIP and messaging in third is not really surprising given how long they have been around as an entrenched desktop app so users are simply migrating to the mobile app on this basis.

Linkedin coming in fourth means that this professional social network is gaining serious currency in Kenya for job seekers and networkers. I always like to speak of Linkedin as Kenya’s quietly powerful social network since Facebook and Twitter seem to get all the love. However, the numbers are telling us it’s slowly but surely getting really popular in Kenya.

Now, in fifth is Instagram which I am personally addicted to for sharing photos that have been filtered. This is a big surprise but of late I have been getting loads of alerts that my Facebook friends have ‘just’ signed up for Instagram. Mark my words – Instagram is growing exponentially as it rides the Facebook wave in Kenya and 2014 could be a watershed year for this mobile app to go really mainstream like Twitter did over the last couple of years. In addition, brands have an opportunity to start using Instagram as part of their social media marketing arsenal given that the rate of adoption is quite frankly startling, even by Kenyan standards.

The sixth most searched for mobile app in Kenya was the Currency Convertor. This is interesting since people obviously need to convert currencies in a user-friendly manner when they are online. I would never have guessed how popular something as utilitarian as this mobile app could be which goes to show that there is certainly a business opportunity to develop a truly localised (read: Kenyan?) and perhaps more accurate and comprehensive currency convertor mobile app?

DropBox’s mobile app at seven is a really big surprise too showing that the cloud is taking off for file storage and sharing using this awesome service and its mobile app. I have personally used DropBox for around four years now and I do not know how I could do without it from a business or personal perspective. DropBox is quite simply irreplaceable as your hard drive in the cloud, so to speak.

In eighth place is Viber which is a VOIP and messaging mobile app like Skype and WhatsApp rolled up into one is a little surprising. I personally have installed Viber a few times but have never really used it as very few people I know are on it? I suspect that this is a ‘Millennials’ phenomena comprised of Kenyan teens and youth in general who are all keen on using inexpensive and engaging forms of mobile communications. Clearly Viber is on the move as a mobile app in Kenya as the Google Zeitgeist attests.

In ninth position is the Adobe Acrobat Reader mobile app which is more or less the gold standard for sharing and opening documents online. This would suggest that lots of users have to access PDF files from the Internet and this is the preferred mobile app for opening them – even as there other free alternatives out there.

Finally, the tenth most searched for mobile app in Kenya in 2013 is Nimbuzz which is quite similar to Viber in that it enables both free VOIP calls and mobile messaging. I have to confess that I am little surprised that Nimbuzz was on this list since its been quite a few years since I last used it. In the days before WhatsApp, Nimbuzz was one of the most popular free mobile messaging apps out there and was used quite universally on Nokia feature and smart phones in the days that Nokia dominated. It would therefore appear that there is still a large (legacy?) installed base of users in Kenya?

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