Kenya is now hitting the sweet spot when it comes to smartphone adoption and use. There are various factors which come to play when discussing smartphones adoption, like great prices for entry level smartphones, Android, cheap data costs and also infrastructure development(things like 3G deployment and useful applications that need smartphones).
Now other markets like the US, Europe and the far East have already hit this milestone where research firm numbers have it that smartphone shipments have already surpassed feature phone shipments. It was always going to happen, and soon anyway. Main reason being that there are indeed smartphones at the same prices the feature phones sell at. This means that the user knows more and wants more in a phone than before. Things like media consumption, gaming and productivity are in the mind of consumers when they make the mobile phone purchases.
Bruce Howe, Nokia East Africa General manager said that Kenya is now 50% a smartphone market. “50% of all mobile phones being sold currently in Kenya accross all manufacturers are smarthones,” Bruce commented while at the launch of new Nokia products in the Kenya market. These are the Nokia Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1320 which are Nokia’s 6 inch phablets and three others in the Asha range, Asha 500, Asha 502 and Asha 503 which are smartphones in the entry level powered by Nokia’s Asha platform.
He however noted that generally mobile phone sales have gone down 20% month on month as a result of the tax that was added to previously zero rated electronics like mobile phones and computers. He adds that there is a notable impact on this, the part where users are now going back to grey imports that are cheaper. This is as a result of the tax which led to a 20% general increase in mobile phone selling price in the market.
The bigger picture here is the lack of warranty for the said consumers which paints the vendors in a bad light. Another setback would be the local developer support who benefit from vendor-initiated value adds like preinstalled software to drive applications discovery and growth. With grey imports, products are developed for other markets and this means services pre-installed are for other markets. The outcome then is reduced growth for these start-ups that would otherwise get an easy chance to become profitable and adding to the job creation opportunity.