Abel Masai, a computer science graduate from a local university has launched NewsDrift, an Android news aggregator from major news sources in Kenya.
Speaking to TechMoran, Masai said, “I first launched in April. At that time, I began by aggregating Kenyan newspapers. Then in July I did a major update that now inludes international news sites. My initial target market was Kenya, and eventually Africa.”
He told TechMoran that he chose Android because it’s the mostly used smart-phone platform in Kenya and because Android phones are cheap and easy to use. He believes building for Android is like building for the critical mass. Other platforms like Windows Phone 8 and iOS will follow.
He is not breaking law yet. He is using publicly available RSS feeds to get news to his app and he has also written to news sites requesting for permission to use their content in line with their terms and conditions. His competition include apps like Habari App, majorly for East Africa news and News Kenya focused on local news. Internationally Pulse, Flipboard, Google Currents among others. One big competitor, albeit still on web is AllAfrica, which aggregates all African news, with permission.
Asking about Habari News App, which has both Android and iOS apps, Masai says he has used the Android version and has not plans of coppying them.”Actually I began working on NewsDrift late last year. I came to learn of Habari long after I had launched news drift, he told TechMoran. He wants to get as many users as possible onto the NewsDrift platform, have the critical mass then start earning revenue either through adverts or by partnering with news houses.
He was inspired by his first smart phone, a Huawei Ideos, which he was very impressed by. It had quality apps done by global tech giants. “One such application was Pulse. You could clearly see someone put some thought into application, took his time to perfect. Yet locally the apps weren’t as good. I thought If these guys can do it so can we.”In five years, he wants NewsDrift to be the no.1 news aggregator in Africa and globally. he is also working hard to acquire a big chunk of the local market before the international players launch here.
Working on his own with no investors to back him or revenue, he has manged to push the word out about Newsdrift and has been featured on Techloy, Savvykenya, Techweez and Androidtapp and AppZoom both top review sites for Android apps.Masai, a software engineer from Kenya, currently working at Cellulant did computer technology at JKUAT. After graduating last year. He spent most of his free time experimenting on new technologies and ideas.
He denies that Kenyans are not just building mobile apps as their counterparts build massive solutions for enterprises.
He says,” That’s not completely true. Guys are actually doing some really stuff. On the face value, a mobile application might see very simple. But that application could be feeding off a complex server backend. As such, the app only acts as an access channel to a complex system. So while we might have very many M-apps, we also have some very good mobile-based solutions that only need the right amount of exposure.”