If you develop in Miscrosoft C# and like playing around with an SDK read the MXit API press release at the bottom. If you’re looking for a real API start by reading Paul Scott’s post…
So today I attended the launch of the MXit API. I was pretty excited about this one from the hype surrounding it mainly because there was a lot of talk of MXit finally “opening up” and creating an open API for anyone to use. Turns out that this is not really the case at all.
Firstly, as the launch event started, the audience was asked not to tweet anything without running it by the MXit folks first (you know in case they have to deal with more bad press), at which point I should have left, but didn’t.
The “API” as it turns out, is really an SDK. A Microsoft .Net C# SDK at that. There is no API (well not counting the standard XMPP “API” which we have been using for years anyway) at all, but a Windows DLL that contains an interface to the MXit currency functions (they call it Moola) and some basic messaging options. They have also introduced a simple markup language that allows some simple graphical elements to be cached client side for performance. The markup would be really useful IMO, but that seems to be secondary to MXit themselves.
Essentially the DLL is only useful to Microsoft Visual Studio coders as it uses the Net.TCP function to do the bidirectional API calls. That basically means that you cannot even hack this thing onto Mono and still use a Free Software stack to run your apps. There is a WCF service that runs on top of the API to handle the requests to handle the HTTP requests from client apps.
This could all have been achieved in a much easier way by sticking to pure old XMPP plus a basic API to handle some non-standard XMPP stanzas for the transactions etc. I do not know why they approached it in this way at all.
Basically the MXit API is Yet Another Walled Garden (YAWG) that I do not need to think about again.
For those that are interested in doing something with the “API” the approach would be:
1. They are very interested in games, so make a simple text based multiplayer game.
2. Get in real early. I suspect that the apps will quickly become saturated and lose novelty fast, so start coding immediately if you think that you may want to make money from this thing
3. Be aware that your revenue stream is based on MXit Moola, which means a Premium Rated SMS service via MXit. That means that for every Rand you charge your clients, you will get 50c
One vector that I can think of for one person to make an absolute fortune from this would be to buy the infrastructure and software and create an Open API around it for 3rd party devs to use. You will essentially become the middle middleman and create value for everyone in the world that does NOT want to fiddle with Windows DLL’s and such. You could then charge a small transaction fee on that service.
Overall, I was underwhelmed, but lunch was good, so thanks to MXit for that! We also got a goody bag(let) full of stickers and a cap, so I am sure my kids will have fun with those.
SA entrepreneurs and developers to host their applications on MXit
MXit today launched a beta version of the MXit API (application programming interface), which gives entrepreneurs/software developers the ability to create social, commercial, entertainment, gaming, social upliftment and other applications for the vast user base of MXit worldwide.
The launch not only opens a commercial door for people wanting to engage with users of one of the continent’s largest mobile media platforms, but it has the potential to provide a lucrative revenue stream.
“This is perhaps the most exciting chapter in MXit’s history as a mobile social network and time will tell where this new evolution will take us,” says Herman Heunis, CEO and founder of MXit. “The launch of the API allows software developers/entrepreneurs, from anywhere in the world, with a brilliant idea or concept to create unique applications for our users. The main obstacles normally facing entrepreneurs in the mobile space, such as support for countless different phones, marketing of their application(s), revenue collection and secure billing, are all taken care of as we not only support more than 2,500 different mobile handsets, but also have our own virtual currency, MXit Moola.
As an entrepreneurial spirited company, it is important to us that entrepreneurs who engage with us are rewarded with a revenue share, which could be as much as 70% (after cost). By opening MXit for external application development, the social network is effectively giving entrepreneurs/developers an opportunity to use their creativity to extend their business or software development to a mobile community that has a natural affinity for social interaction. Paramount to this is protection of our users and we will screen external applications carefully to ensure they fall within our brand values”.
Heunis continues, “It’s all about creating applications that will excite or fulfill a definite need to the community. Our aim, as always, is to ensure that our users are consistently delighted by our platform and its capabilities; and this is illustrated by the way MXit has evolved from an instant messaging platform in the early days to a mobile social network that incorporates vast communities that use MXit to enhance their lifestyles.”
How to develop applications for MXit:
An external developer will need to register with MXit at code.mxit.com.
Once registered and logged in for the first time, a test application name and password will be issued to connect the test application to MXit. This will allow developers to become familiar with all aspects of creating an application on MXit’s platform.
Prior to actual development of an application, the concept needs to be approved by MXit to ensure it falls within the MXit brand guidelines and is applicable to its user base.
Once approved and developed, the application will be hosted by the developer.
What this means for the MXit community:
An application library will enable users to select and try out submitted applications from a constantly updated menu list. Users will pay for an application or virtual goods within the application using MXit Moola – unless the application is free or has sponsored advertising within it.
Proof of concept
MXit has launched some prototypes that are already proving popular with their community; for example, tiXi, a time-based, multi-player educational word game that allows users to compete against each other by compiling words from random letters.
Thousands of games are started every day in English, Afrikaans and numerals. A game lasts 10 minutes, a user has 60 seconds to enter a game, and any number of users can start simultaneously.
Users invite friends from their contact list to participate, thus increasing the game’s social impact.
This is most of the MXit API launch press release. I’ve made some notes while at the event which I’ll publish later. Maybe MXit will be hosting events like this more regularly. Maybe call it MXitCon?