AKA to launch a celebrity-branded smartphone?

News of AKA's latest business venture has flown under the radar so many are left wondering what Beam Digital is

By  | Dec 05, 2017, 11:52 AM

AKA to launch a celebrity-branded smartphone?

Unless you're a die-hard AKA fan, you may not have heard that the rapper recently launched his latest business venture under the Beam Group umbrella called 'Beam Digital' but what exactly does Beam Digital do? 

Described as "providing talent with technological platforms & suites of services to enable them to engage better with their followers and to sustain lifelong earnings," one can be forgiven for having no idea what that even means. 

In addition to the aforementioned PR jargon, Beam Digital has been described as a platform that "will empower celebrities (musicians, actors, models and sports-players) to engage with their fans through broadcasts across exciting digital platforms, celebrities own customized mobile devices, loyalty programs, discounts and an extensive range of value added mobile services."

So basically, they will help celebrities form a "direct link" to their audiences with a mobile-first focus seeing as the mobile phone will be the preferred medium of engagement. Presumably through apps, much like the one Forbes' girlfriend, Bonang Matheba recently launched in partnership with Cell C

bonang by cell c app login page

“The digital revolution is driving technological change at a pace that has never been seen before and followers are expecting more from the artists they support. It’s been a dream of mine to be able to empower my fellow artists by connecting them more significantly with their fans through innovative tech & digital solutions. I’ve been looking for the next big thing and I believe this is it!” said Forbes in a statement. 

In order to successfully implement the vision, Beam Group has partnered with the management firm that Matheba recently defected to, Celebrity Services Africa (C.S.A) - a leading, global talent & media agency whose vision is to develop a media and entertainment marketplace across the African continent - and MiCore Holdings, an innovation-first, mobile technology solutions provider.

The decision to embark on this business venture was driven by Africa’s mobile phone penetration which is estimated to hit 560M smartphones in the market by 2020 as well as what the Beam Group have described as “a booming entertainment industry.”

Khanyi Mbau launches an app

As mentioned above, earlier this year, Matheba released the ‘Bonang By Cell C’ app which was quickly followed by Khanyi Mbau’s own exclusive platform, ‘Khanyi Mbau Digital’ just weeks later. 

Bonang By Cell C is currently sitting on 5000 downloads on the Google Play App Store and we have yet to find out how many overall downloads the app has amassed thus far as all attempts to obtain stats from Cell C have been unsuccessful. 

Khanyi Mbau’s app on the other hand is nowhere to be found. Which begs the question of how much of a market there really is for these kinds of ventures? 

“Historically exclusive content on digital platforms in Africa has been limited. Beam Digital is about democratizing media and entertainment on the continent and we’re looking forward to being part of the process where artists and the fans will benefit,” said CSA co-founder and executive director, Marc Le Chat, in a statement.

A post shared by AKA (@akaworldwide) on

In addition to the services provided by Beam Digital, the Beam Group have planned to launch what they refer to as platforms and solutions in the first phase of the new venture and these include: BeamTawk, BeamMobile, BeamRepair, BeamRewards, BeamSurance, BeamTunes, BeamMarket, BeamCoin. 

What these platforms will be for is pretty much self-explanatory based on the names of each venture, meaning Beam Digital will see the company launch a multi channel mobile TV station, artists own online music store, an e-commerce site selling each artist’s own merchandise and an e-wallet and digital currency solution among others. 

Beam Group also has plans to launch a new, celebrity-branded smartphone, which will reportedly be made in South Africa and released in February 2018. According to the company, the unnamed smartphone "will include the latest features together with exclusive content and services to reward fans."

In addition to that will be a mobile messaging platform catering to both smart and feature phones, that allows artists to connect with their fans and engage with them directly, called BeamTawk. And in that same vein will be BeamRepair; "a network of mobile device repair centres across South Africa that will provide much needed job creation and skills development. Customers will be able to have their devices collected, repaired and delivered back, all within 24 hours."

“My greatest wish is for Beam Digital to empower talent to grow their brands by knowing their fans. By owning their data base, artists can engage more powerfully and directly with their followers and, by leveraging data-driven knowledge ahead of brand endorsements & agreements, they’ll become masters of their own destiny” added Forbes. 

With that said, it seems as though Beam Digital will also provide the analytical insight and market research needed by artists when brokering endorsement deals and other brand-related agreements with major corporations in order to ensure the artists get the best bang for their buck with regards to the online following they may have built and whatever possible return-on-investment this holds for brands. 

Now that we know what Beam Digital is, it will be interesting to sit back and observe the vision come to life...

Main image credit: instagram.com/akaworldwide