Several smartphone brands are bound to enter the Kenyan mobile market in 2015 with smartphones and tablets at different price tiers. Oppo has already introduced its devices into the market and several others are also keen on the same. They include Lenovo and other less recognizable companies like I-onik from Germany, GTeL which has a presence in Zimbabwe and Fly whose mobile devices are a household name in Russia.
Lenovo, whose smartphone shipments exceeded those from its PC business for the first time in 2014, will likely be bringing its Vibe-branded smartphones to the Kenyan market. Lenovo smartphones and tablets are already selling in Kenya though not directly through the company. Now that Lenovo owns Motorola, will we get to see the likes of the budget Motorola Moto G and E smartphones finally available in the Kenyan market?
I-onik has TM-branded tablets and we are really not sure what they have in store for the Kenyan market. GTeL’s African operations are only in Zimbabwe at the moment where it currently sells devices like the A750 MXplora 1 and the A755 SL5.1 smartphone and the T9000 tablet. We’ll have to wait and see what it is that they have in store for the Kenyan market though it will be wise of you to expect lots of devices that look like something you’ve seen somewhere and with features you’ve likely seen elsewhere as well. Fly boasts of Europe-wide operations and advances in the Indian market as well. It’s devices also go under Eurostar branding in Middle East countries like the UAE. One of the Fly devices launching in Kenya is the Thunder 3 through online retailer Jumia in its Mobile Week Megathon.
While smartphones are wildly popular in Kenya (there are over 100,000 smartphones purchased every month and as of last year, smartphones accounted for over half of all mobile phones sold), the market remains largely untapped and there is still room for more players to come in and make a difference while still adding lots of value to themselves.
As per the 2013/14 Communications Authority of Kenya report, there are currently well over 32.2 million mobile phone users in the country. Out of those, Safaricom accounts for over 68% of the total mobile subscriber base in the country. As of Safaricom’s latest data released during its earnings call, there are just 3.4 million smartphone users on its network. While that data is not conclusive (we don’t have smartphone figures from the other operators to make it so and the report is as of June 2014), it just shows how much room there is for growth.
Recently we’ve seen French brand Wiko unveil its smartphones in the market at different price-points. Former Apple CEO John Sculley’s Obi Mobiles is also angling for a share of the pie while hardened players like Tecno keep pushing the envelope and heaping pressure on the likes of Samsung, Microsoft and Huawei who have for a long time dominated the smartphone market in Kenya. In fact, we expect Mr Sculley to further spearhead the Obi Mobiles agenda when he next visits the country as part of US President Barack Obama’s entourage in July alongside other business executives.