A Washington, D.C.-based company hopes to make a killing selling Africa-themed emojis and sticker characters dressed in traditional African attire that come with pan-African phrases customizable by users in their preferred languages.
Afro Emoji launched its Africa-centric sticker app today, a product of Washington, D.C.-based technology company iManagement Consulting, according to a press release. The emojis and stickers are available for download on the Google Play and Apple App stores.
With the mobile revolution taking place across Africa, the Afro Emoji team expects this form of digital communication, an African hieroglyph, to be incredibly popular, the company said in a press release.
Abeg, what’s an emoji anyway? Emojis are small digital images or icons like smiley faces used to express ideas or emotions in electronic communication. Some are available free but people are willing to pay for them. Emojis may look simple, but they’re amazingly complex.
With an estimated 12,500 emojis tweeted every minute, advertisers are interested in what they mean, according to Adweek.
“Emoji usage is an evolution of how the younger mobile consumer communicates,” said Noah Brier, CEO of marketing software firm Percolate. “So it’s logical for brands to follow those conversations.”
Emojis have been the subject of heated social media debate. In 2014, Apple’s emojis were accused of lacking racial diversity, NPR reported.
The digital hieroglyphics convey users’ thoughts and moods by way of hearts and smiley-faced poop across dozens of platforms, according to Adweek. They usually convey positive emotions, but are one of the social Web’s most cryptic languages and are increasingly becoming a big part of the social conversation.
Afro Emoji’s stickers can be used on Whatsapp, SMS or iMessage, Facebook/Messenger, Twitter DM, Skype, Google hangout, and BBM.
Some of Afro Emoji’s caption sayings are well known in Africa and the diaspora, the company said, including the following:
The company hopes to capitalize on the fact that mobile messaging continues to dominate electronic communication in Africa and the diaspora, according to a statement.
The team at Afro Emoji said it identified a gap in the market for bespoke characters that represent the hundreds of millions of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.
“We, as Africans, definitely have an idiosyncratic way of communicating with one another, and Afro Emoji is really a fun, accessible graphic depiction of that,” said Afro Emoji team leader Ayoola Daramola in a prepared statement. “We are building a modern African hieroglyph that represents us.”
Africans love all things mobile, and 400 million-plus smartphones are expected to be in use on the continent by 2020.
The company said it hopes the emojis will become “part of Africa’s conversation currency.” More features, characters and captions are in development.
“Mobile is king in Africa and globally,” Daramola said. “It is the tool for communication and media consumption, so we expect the Afro Emoji to become a key component in how Africans message and chat, in much the same way as emoji stickers have become so popular in the east and west.”
Apple was accused in 2014 of lacking racial diversity in its emoji stickers, NPR reported. Miley Cyrus, MTV and hordes of people on Twitter complained. In response, Apple introduced a new set of iPhone emojis that offered more skin-tone options than before.
Alpesh Patel, Ugandan-Mauritian CEO of Africa-based emoji company Oju Africa, thought Apple missed the point with its skin-tone iPhone emojis.
“Diversity is not about skin color — it’s about embracing the multiple cultures out there that have no digital representation,” he told Vice’s Motherboard.
Afro Emoji comes with 50 free characters and in-app sticker purchases available at $1.99 for 300 stickers.
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