In the course of this week, two very significant developments happened in Kenya’s Internet content space. The first is that the global online classifieds behemoth CraigsList launched a Kenya variant of their highly popular service at http://kenya.craigslist.org. The second development is that Kenya’s Nation Media Group (NMG) also launched an online classifieds services called N-Soko at http://www.nsoko.com.
In both these cases, what is apparent is that the growing market for local online classifieds in Kenya has finally caught the eye of the big boys, so to speak. Its hard to tell whether N-Soko or CraigsList will succeed but CraigsList is far better positioned to dominate the Kenyan online classifieds market. This is due to the fact they have been doing this sort of thing for so much longer and have built a successful business that works across numerous multicultural and multilingual global markets.
N-Soko, on the other hand, even though it has the backing of East Africa’s largest media business, is on the backfoot. Whilst N-Soko is a great initiative in terms of creating a local online classifieds brand, the whole execution of the web site is lacking. It feels disjointed from the homepage as you open up separate browser windows for each category of classifieds. It quite simply does not feel as simple, user-friendly or as well put together as the spartan looking Kenya CraigsList.
For the time being, N-Soko seems to have more classified listings but I’d say give CraigsList time to grow – their brand is not well known in this part of the world, yet but they have been able to parlay their ongoing success in many markets. One thing for sure though is that with around 4 million Internet users and 18 million mobile subscribers in Kenya, the local Internet content wars are only just getting started.