Well, what we have been seeing in other countries like the UK and the US of Mobile phone carriers offering phones offering contracts to smart phone devices is now in Kenya. It started a few weeks ago with the largest mobile service provider in Kenya Safaricom which was offering a Nokia N8 on a hire purchase-like sale and you could pay a low monthly fee which they dubbed postpay. A quick search on the website reveals that the offer is nolonger there, though i wouldnt mind being proved wrong.
As i was reading one of my dailies today Tuesday morning i came across this full page ad by Orange Kenya, one of the four mobile carriers advertising phone contracts that would see one getting a free smartphone if you get a device and spend between Kshs 2000-4000 per month for 1 or 2 years, depending on some terms that are yet to be made clear. A search on the orange website shows only the image ad on the newspaper and not much detail.
The plan is also dubbed a postpaid offer but its the same contracts that Verizon wireless offers to American citizens where they get free devices as long as they fit in a data/voice plan. In the case of orange they are offering the Nokia N8 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 on a contract of Kshs 4000 monthly ( I believe this is for a plan of two years, since below there it indicates that they are 1 or 2 year contracts, while up there they say “from 4000”). This will see users find an easy way to get the much wanted smartphone but on a more expensive route, hire purchase always is. You get the Samsung Scala B7330 at a cost of Kshs 2000 data/voice monthly usage.
In all plans they also promise on-net calls of Kshs 1 per minute, offnets of Kshs 3 per minute, sms at Kshs 1 to all networks, data at between Kshs 2-7 per minute( i believe the difference here is if you buy a bundle you get a plan as low as 2 bob and otherwise you pay 7 bob). There is also a closed user group offer where you pay 650 bob.
As i see it here, the catch is in the data, for a Mobile carrier to make serious cash in the mobile-war riddled market they have to have users who call alot, like marketers and others, but with data, anyone who can afford a phone that is worth more than 4ooo bob will spend alot on data. Hence the mobile service providers keen interest in contracts that will see clients hooked up to the said network on a smartphone that will ensure they consume alot of data. With the implementation of 3G by some of the MSPs, data is deemed as a potential income generator. The average employed guy will share photos on social media, connect via social media, use google docs, send mail with attatchments, and what all this means alot of data consumption. Think about it .
Are we going to see more and more locked phones even after mobile number portability?