Ignore the Chinese phones at your own peril.
Chinese phone giants Tecno Mobile and G-Tide are beginning to make their presence felt in the region.
Nokia and Samsung both recently launched gadgets specific to the peculiar nature and peculiar habits of Kenyan and African telephony and communication.
Particularly the fact that most people operate phones from multiple carriers and as such phones that allows two carriers to work interchangeably.
In my view, this was a reaction to market intelligence on the prevalence and preference of Chinese phones due to the twin sim status,which allows one phone to hold two separate network carriers. A recent statement by Tecno is that their next release of phones would allow up to four sim cards!
This is however but one aspect of the greater challenge from China. Here are some of their wins.
- Mass Market Target-
The Chinese phones have identified the mass market as their market bracket and are deliberately targeting and going after them. In Nairobi, they have set up their bases in the busiest and most liquid areas of town, in River Road and Luthuli Avenue, basically, downtown, where their target market exists. Nokia centres and partner companies are predominantly upmarket.
- Unbelievable battery life-
Ask around and you will be told, these phones have the best battery life ever, unmatched by the regular brands lasting up to a week without having to be recharged.
There are Tecno Mobile and G-tide mobile repair and warranty centres and distribution centres in every town in Kenya, small and large. This is besides the phone shops selling the phones in the first place. This level of penetration in terms of care centre availability is yet unmatched.
- Mobile Applications-
No question, Nokia is driving the change towards the usage of mobile applications both ussd and smartphone in Africa. Tecno has however announced that it has released SDK’s to selected developer companies in Kenya, with whom they are working with to create mobile applications for this market in their smartphone segment. A chat with a Safaricom Customer Care representative confirmed internet settings should work just fine with the Chinese phones.
Whilst the savvy user in your smoky cafe, sipping Coffee peeking at his Smartphone ,the real moneymakers are downtown, pushing phones to the masses.Whilst the refined user may want great extensibility in his phone usage, the average user is primarily concerned with being able to reach and be reached from both his lines as a basic need before going into the intricacies of social media. From their research the likes of Nokia must present a solution that fits the needs of the mass market to be profitable in Africa.