A screen from the Hype Chat service displayed on a mobile device. The service by Opera was launched in Kenya on February 23, 2021.
A screen from the Hype Chat service displayed on a mobile device. The service by Opera was launched in Kenya on February 23, 2021.

Norwegian technology firm Opera on Tuesday, February 23 announced the launch of a new dedicated chat service dubbed ‘Hype’. The unique service is built into Opera Mini, one of the world’s most popular mobile browsers.

The firm chose to pilot the service in Kenya, meaning that Kenyans will be the first adopters of Hype in the world.  It stated that the service was designed with African consumers in mind.

From February 23, users will be able to easily set up their Hype accounts and start chatting with secure end-to-end encryption.

Opera’s aggressive push to bridge the digital divide in Africa has seen it grow its user base on the continent by 40 per cent since 2018. As of 2019, over 120 million people in Africa used Opera’s browsers and mobile applications.

Opera noted that it developed the chat service as it reimagined the future of browsers and what they have to offer – in a bid to enable seamless surfing, sharing and communication without compromising speed or driving increased data consumption.

Charles Hamel, Product Lead for Hype at Opera
Charles Hamel, Product Lead for Hype at Opera

“Chat services and browsers are apps people use every day and feel very personal about.

“With the integration of Hype in Opera Mini, we are not only rethinking what a chat service should be like in 2021, but also changing the very definition of what a mobile browser should be,” noted Charles Hamel, Product Lead for Hype.

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Highlighting Kenya’s young, savvy population Hamel noted the immense potential for early adopters.

He further revealed that the firm was engaging leading telcos to offer daily browsing to all Opera Mini users, a move that would speed up adoption of Hype.

“Today, 40% of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations dominating as 75% of their 47 million inhabitants are under 30 years old.

“With such early adopter demographics at play, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya,” Hamel Observed.

At the same time, Opera notably became the first major browser developer to partner with Kenyan artists. It engaged celebrated artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitolo to design original sticker packs for Hype.

Shifting away from traditional emojis and sticker packs, Hype users will be able to use expressions unique to Kenyans in their chats.

The service also incorporates WebSnap, a feature that allows users to easily take and share snapshots from the web.

It is a great way to share memes and snippets, allowing users to edit snapshots by adding colors, text, and emoji before sharing with others.

It remains to be seen how Hype will eat into the pie of established chat applications with millions of users in Kenya such as Whatsapp and Telegram.

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