Thumbtribe helps Africans discover the mobile Web

‘Best of the Mobile Web’ helps people find what they are looking for on their phones, and drives uptake of mobile web adoption

June 2, 2010

‘Best of the Mobile Web’ helps people find what they are looking for on their phones, and drives uptake of mobile web adoption

South African mobile media and marketing specialist, Thumbtribe, has created a directory of top local mobile sites called ‘Best of the Mobile Web’.

The Best of the Mobile Web directory allows consumers to find relevant, mobile-friendly content quickly and easily. With mobile search services and mobile SEO best practice still evolving and focussing on high-end smart phones, the directory helps fill a gap for the African low-end device market and streamlines discovery of quality Web content, optimised specifically for mobile phones.

The directory is a vital tool in driving growth of the mobile industry in Southern Africa, as listing in a structured catalogue provides mobile website owners with a hugely popular channel to drive traffic. The directory can be found on, via other leading mobile channels such as Samsung mobile,, Opera Mini and through links from all sites housed within the directory.

While mobile usage far outstrips PC usage in Africa, the mobile web is not yet at its full potential. For Graeme Haley, co-founder of Thumbtribe, this is because there is still not enough understanding of how to design sites for the mobile web, and how to attract mobile users.

“The mobile web is fundamentally different from the standard World Wide Web – it is not suitable for scratching around and just stumbling on something. Many mobile websites are not yet optimised for search engines and the majority of mobile Web browsers are using devices with limited capabilities making browsing traditional ‘desktop’ Web content difficult.

“Desktop web users can browse. Mobile web users must hunt. Right now, if you want to find cool or useful .mobi sites relevant to Southern Africa, Best of the Mobile Web is the place to start”.

Thumbtribe is expanding the directory to incorporate mobile sites in the rest of Africa. “We are currently cementing partnerships in Nigeria and Kenya,” says Haley. “Mobile is a powerful technology for Africa. My team and I firmly believe that the digital divide can be crossed using mobile and by increasing the possibility for Africans to connect and create communities of interest, we will be advancing the growth and adoption of the mobile web on our continent.”

“Too many companies just take their website and make it smaller for mobile users and think their work is done. A true .mobi site is more than a mini-website: it must accommodate browsers limited by varying hardware, screen sizes and processing power, and also the different way users engage with the mobile web. Right now it’s often difficult to browse the mobile web and find what you want, which is something we’re looking to address” says Haley.

Sites are currently categorized and overseen by an editorial team – not an automated algorithm – to ensure relevance and quality. It is divided into 17 categories, including topics such as news, celebs and travel. It is free to list and any site is welcome to submit to the directory, although the Thumbtribe Best of the Web listings team has a vetting process to ensure that the directory is mobile and family-friendly. All partner sites are required to carry links back to the directory to drive traffic within the network

With well over two million unique users per month on and its network of partner sites, any site that is included in the directory will experience an upsurge of traffic. “Most importantly, the traffic is totally relevant. Users have found your site because they are interested in what you have to offer,” says Haley.

“With unofficial stats ranging from six million to 10 million mobile web users in South Africa alone, we are confident that this directory will help people find what they are looking for quickly and simply. This can only help the adoption and growth of the mobile web, making life convenient for some, and providing an invaluable bridge over the digital divide for others,” concludes Haley.