Messaging by numbers

With well over four hundred download requests for the new (well, latest) version of FrontlineSMS, it seemed like a good time to dig a little deeper and see if any patterns were emerging. It'll be interesting to do this again in the coming months, and see how or if these numbers have changed over time.


The first version of FrontlineSMS ran exclusively on Windows machines, and we were keen to expand this to cover other operating systems in the latest release. That said, it comes as no surprise that the majority of new users have requested the Windows version (79%). The majority of Apple Mac requests (13%) came from either techies or users in developed/Western markets, and almost without exception all Linux requests - trailing in third place at 8% - came from the developer or techie community. This reflects what we originally expected, and justifies our original focus on a fully-automated Windows installer, as opposed to the Mac and Linux versions which require a little manual configuration. (This is set to change, however, as we work with Ushahidi on a standard platform-independent installer in the coming weeks).


Geographically we have an interesting spread, with three regions cancelling each other out. Bearing in mind these are the areas of 'residence' - so-to-speak - of the users (and not necessarily their region of focus or operation), North America is slightly ahead at

26%, followed very closely by Africa and Asia (both on 25%). Europe sits back in fourth place (14%), with South America becoming a new 'growth' area for FrontlineSMS, hitting 8% from a standing start back in June. The Middle East makes up for quantity (only 2%) with quality - there are some very interesting FrontlineSMS-activities taking place there at the moment, and I'll hopefully be able to write about them at some stage. As always seems to be the case, the more interesting FrontlineSMS use-studies seem to be in war-torn areas, or areas of political instability.


What's particularly interesting about the proposed uses of FrontlineSMS is that there's no clear 'winner' (see below).

Education and economic empowerment programs account for an equal share of 28% of downloads, followed by health projects at 10%, human rights and advocacy work at 9% and - surprisingly - media and arts at 8%. Two surprise packages are the number of youth-focused projects - 6% - and religious - 5%. Further analysis, and a more detailed breakdown of the categories, will be useful as the user-base grows.

So, what does this tell us? Well, it's a bit of a mixed message, but the numbers do give us an early "average FrontlineSMS2.0 user" profile - that of an organisation based in North America (by a whisker), running the Windows version and working in economic empowerment or education. Interesting...