As 1.6 billion Muslims kick off the holy month of Ramadan this week, they’re also spending more time on social media platforms than at any time else during the year.
According to The Online Project, a Middle East research agency, residents in the region use social media platforms up to 30 percent more during the holy month, and tech companies are cashing in.
Google blazed the trail, introducing a multimedia online hub offering Muslims around the world “more ways to get together during Ramadan.”
Launched Wednesday, the hub features a live feed of The Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, live cooking classes teaching new recipes for the nightly Iftar meal and a one-click download button for Google Hangout to connect dispersed family members.
Google invites users in five languages to submit their Iftar photos, using the hashtag #breakingfast and highlights the top Google Search trends in the Muslim world.
Nokia, Microsoft and BlackBerry also rolled out several Ramadan themed apps this week.
Nokia and Microsoft jointly released “Ramadan Kareem,” which alerts users of the next prayer time and “Quran Mojawed,” which offers the entire Arabic text of the Muslim holy book, the Quran. Both apps are designed for the Windows Phone 8, available in the Windows Phone Store.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion’s selection of apps includes “Islam 101,” which is a pocket guide to the principles of the religion. And available in Apple’s App Store, “InstaDeen” allows users to overlay Instagram pictures with Quranic verse.
Ahmed Arab, the app marketing manager for Nokia MENA (Middle East and North Africa), told Gulf Business that the number of apps targeting Muslims during Ramadan will likely grow. ”Developers in the region are very enthusiastic with the opportunities Ramadan apps offer,” he said.