Mi-Fone, the African mobile device brand that has been in the news recently after a clash with Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi over trademark infringement involving its ‘Mi’ brand, is keen on gaining lost ground. Mi-Fone has been around since April 2008 but challenges like financing and market dynamics have kept it from growing to its full potential.
At a gathering with the media and key market stakeholders in Nairobi yesterday, Mi-Fone CEO Alpesh Patel revealed that at some point last year the company almost went under. However, it has since received funding of an undisclosed amount from an unnamed South African company that is keeping it afloat and vital in efforts to revive its long term plans for the African continent. Those plans include releasing new devices to replace the current lineup which can be described as old and out of place if it was to be compared with recent releases from competitors. Mi-Fone is also keen on expanding to more African countries as it currently has a presence in just 13 countries something that is worrying for a brand that prides itself in being truly African.
Mi-Fone is keen on being very visible and attracting more customers and particularly the young and trendy who regard phones as expressions of who they are rather than being just communication tools. According to the Mi-Fone CEO, Mi-Fone is a lifestyle brand and this will best be exemplified in the upcoming devices. He believes Mi-Fone can be the Apple of Africa and is giving himself and his team at least the next 6 months to turn things around. Will they be able to make it this time round? Time will tell.