By Adedapo Adesanya
Norwegian app giant, Opera, has launched Hype, its new dedicated chat service built into the popular Opera Mini browser in Africa.
Set in the pilot market of Kenya, Hype is the first African inspired chat service built into a mobile browser.
With Hype, Opera reimagines the chat experience, with content sharing as a key feature; Opera Mini, with more than 100 million users worldwide, becomes the world’s first mobile browser with an integrated chat service.
With the introduction of Hype in the Opera Mini browser, Opera is rethinking the concept of mobile browsers providing its users with a personalized, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless surfing, chatting and sharing content– without compromising speed or driving increased data consumption.
Speaking on this, the Product Lead for Hype Mr Charles Hamel said, “Chat services and browsers are apps people use every day and feel very personal about.
“With the integration of Hype in Opera Mini, we are not only rethinking what a chat service should be like in 2021 but also changing the very definition of what a mobile browser should be.”
Hype is launching first in Kenya as a pilot market and starting today, users will be able to easily set up their Hype account and begin chatting with secure end-to-end encryption.
This launch is a facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, with the goal of bringing more people online; since 2018, Opera has grown its user base in Africa by 40 per cent.
Speaking further, Mr Hamel explained that, “Hype was developed first and foremost with African consumers in mind. Today, 40 per cent of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations dominating as 75 per cent of their 47 million inhabitants are under 30 years old.
“With such early adopter demographics at play, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya. On top of that, we are also partnering with the leading telecommunication carriers in the country, offering daily free browsing to all Opera Mini users. We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”
This announcement follows similar browser innovation from Opera, which was the first to integrate messenger services as part of their PC browser, in 2019.
Today, its more than 80 million users enjoy the integration of services such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter.
Looking further into the features, Hype infuses new formats like memes and stickers for users to express themselves, often relating to pop culture references and internet content they find. To make this easier and fun, Hype also adds WebSnap, a feature previously known from the Opera desktop browser, that allows users to take snapshots from the web.
Once a websnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colours, text, and emojis, making it fun and entertaining before sharing with others.
It also offers its users a series of stickers created by Kenyan artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitololo. These unique collections of stickers reflect everyday expressions used by Kenyans to provide users with a more engaging experience when communicating with others.
“This comes in handy as users no longer need to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the content they want.
“We are extremely happy to celebrate African culture with Hype and we are very excited with the end result and the collaboration we had with Brian and Lulu.” added Mr Hamel.
“These unique stickers with original designs are something we are very proud of at Opera as we become the first major browser to integrate real African art and pop culture into our products.”
The introduction of Hype in Kenya is part of Opera’s Africa First business strategy, adopted three years ago by the Norwegian company. This strategy consists of four main pillars: 1) Develop products with African consumers in mind; 2) Invest and grow Opera’s digital ecosystem in the African region to bring more people online; 3) Partner with leading global and regional companies; and 4) Employ and collaborate with African colleagues and stakeholders.
The latest population census in Kenya, published in 2019, reported that the country is strongly youthful. Of Kenya’s 47 million inhabitants, 75 per cent are under 30 years old, with children and adolescents representing 63 per cent of the total population.
To this, Mr Hamel said, “Hype was developed first and foremost with African consumers in mind. Today, 40% of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations becoming early adopters of technology.
“With such demographics, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya. On top of that, we are also partnering with Safaricom and Airtel, the leading carriers in the country, offering free daily browsing to all Opera Mini users.
“We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Opera user base reached 380 million monthly active users worldwide, with nearly 150 million monthly active users (MAUs) based in Africa. Since the announcement of Opera’s Africa First strategy in Q1-2018, Opera has grown its user base by 40 per cent in the African region.
This rapid growth in the region gives Opera a unique position to scale its digital ecosystem infrastructure and leverage its brand awareness and recognition. Opera also gives more value to its users by introducing new products and features that truly address the needs of its users locally.