About a year ago, when the zero rating of an app called biNu was announced by Econet we wrote in an article titled “Will Econet Zero-rating restore it to former glory“:
In terms of popularity, this move may spell biNu’s come back in Zimbabwe. The free in yesteryear’s “free SMS” is back! This past November biNu’s total active users were just 53,000. Dropping from a high of about 120,000 in 2012 and effectively less than the 60k they achieved in 2011 when they started. That is serious decline!
The zero rating model may be biNu’s rope to the land of the living. I have the app installed again. I don’t know yet how much I’ll use it.
Information we received from biNu founder Gour Lentell recently shows that it worked. biNu’s active users have shot from about 53,000 at that time to now more than 265,000 in one year. An impressive growth rate of about 400% in a year. Here’s a graph biNu shared with us that shows the growth:
Most of those readers are consuming news from sites such as Herald, NewsDay, Daily News and even content pirate sites like Bulawayo24.com who actually have the most news pageviews on biNu.
Of these users, biNu says 85% are on Android. No surprises there ofcourse but it shows clearly how biNu has managed the transition from a “Smartphone in the Cloud” app for feature phones, to a regular smartphone app riding on zero rating for traction.
Lentell also shared that the 265,000 are viewing some quarter of a billion pageviews a month, growth from just over 50 million in january last year. The company is expecting to keep growing active users in coming months. “We added a net 50k users this month [January], should be bigger next month,” Lentell told us.
The lack of net neutrality is ofcourse at the centre of biNu’s success. We’ve spoken about the net neutrality issue here at Techzim for almost 2 years now. We think it’s an important discussion to have so that meaningful solutions come out, or at least everyone that has a stake in the future of the internet in Zimbabwe, is fully aware of what’s at stake and regulators make informed decisions.
We share our thoughts on this issue in a separate article later, especially with the closely watched developments in India as well as since some other interesting models have been presented to date.
Here are more stats that biNu shared with us.