Previously on the TechNext series, we discussed the rise of 2Go and important issues that helped make it one of Africa’s biggest success stories. In this article, the focus is on what led to its decline.
After 5 years of dominating the African social media space, 2Go is no longer as prominent as it used to. The app is still in existence, and it’s still functional. But the users have all disappeared.
— Anuoluwapo (@thewavysnarky) July 30, 2018
Some persons would tell you they simply “grew up” on the platform, leaving it in their past. Others couldn’t understand what happened but knew they had to move on to something better.
I decided to dig deep into the issue of the decline of 2Go. And I discovered that its decline was caused largely by its failure to adapt and the emergence of Whatsapp. Here are the four issues that led to the decline of 2Go.
2Go was too Attached to the Java Platform
Yes, 2Go owed much of its rise to the popularity of the Java platform. But it also lost its spark as these phones became less popular.
To be fair, Java phones continue to exist and, irrespective of popular belief, they remain somewhat widely popular. However, the technology that powers them has waned seriously. And with the decline of Nokia, no new innovation came on board.
So when people began to lose interest in Java phones and even the BlackBerry, 2Go began to lose membership. And with the popularity of Android, very few people continued to use Java as their primary mobile phones anymore.
The Rise of Android and 2Go’s Failure to Innovate
The popularity of the Android platform literally came overnight. Thanks largely to Tecno, Android devices were cheaper and more powerful than many Java phones. But this in itself shouldn’t have been a problem for 2Go. Yet, it was.
2Go simply could not innovate fast enough to survive on Android. 2Go was designed for low bandwidth and less powerful devices. But it merely ported its code base onto Android without developing anything new on that platform.
According to one former user, “it wasn’t exciting anymore; no new features.”
Its interface was still schemed like for Java making kinda boring to behold. And with hundreds of chat rooms, navigation on 2Go became tiring on touchscreen devices.
Meanwhile old and new competitors were leveraging the Android platform to develop interesting features. And on top of this list was the new and emergent Whatsapp platform.
The Rise of Whatsapp Accelerated the Decline of 2Go
Whatsapp is almost as old as 2Go. It was designed way back in 2009, two years after 2Go launched. However, it had a restricted market and due to feature constraints, it largely ignored the Nokia s40 range of phones. And this sucked because the majority of African Internet users used s40 devices. Personally, I didn’t like this, but in the meantime, it allowed 2Go to blossom.
When the Android platform emerged, Whatsapp was quick to take advantage of it. It quickly listed on the Google Play Store and became available on the numerous devices that ran Android, irrespective of their type. Whatsapp gave users new features, push notification, delivery status, cool interface, etc.
“Soon most people started leaving 2go for WhatsApp, which was the new big thing”, says Damilare.
Whatsapp upon seeing the influx kept improvising, from sharing pictures to Voice notes, to group chats something you didn’t have on 2go.
The decline of 2Go was now unstoppable.
2Go’s Hype Disappears
So at this point, 2Go began to die a natural death, thanks to its lack of innovation and the popularity of Whatsapp. Its user base began to drop while it struggled to get new users.
Odira, a former 2Go user says that why he left. “I left because everyone stopped using it like they used to after Whatsapp came out.”
“I stopped using 2Go because other social media platforms with more features surfaced, so I had to follow the trend,” says my friend Semiat.
Fast forward to 2018, 2Go is no longer anywhere as close to what it once was. The app still functions, no doubt, but it has lost almost everything and everyone. It’s only a matter of time before the final curtains are drawn and one of Africa’s best success stories says farewell.
Looking forward, trendy platforms like Whatsapp should also pay attention to the growth and decline of 2Go. If for anything, its story could be important for their survival.
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