Kenyan mobile users turn into smart phone nation
NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Kenya is gradually becoming a “smart phone nation” as manufacturers continue to unveil affordable phones in the East African country.
Most people, especially those in urban centers, are going for smart phones, which offer varied functions that include faster internet access and data storage.
Smart phones have now become a fad in the East African nation with everyone seeking to acquire the phones that go for as low as 100 U. S. dollars.
“If you do not have a smart phone, you do not have the best mobile phone. Smart phones are the in-thing. All my friends have them. Who am I to be left behind?” posed Sylvia Anyango on Tuesday. The insurance salesperson last week acquired a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone. The handset is barely a week in the Kenyan market and is latest smart phone to be launched in East African country.
The phone dubbed Samsung Galaxy Pocket is going for 117 dollars, comes with a two-year warranty and a free 500MB data.
“Enjoy over 400,000 Android applications, faster download speeds as well as free learning and music, all on the amazing new Samsung Galaxy Pocket. Isn’t it time you carried one around?” Samsung said in an advertisement. “When I saw the mobile phone, I knew this is what I should go for since I had stayed with an IDEOS for over a year. I wanted something new, trendy and fresh,” she said.
However, besides Anyango’s desire to own the handset, its price also contributed to her decision.
“Most smart phones are expensive but this one is being sold affordably despite the fact that it is a galaxy phone, one of the much-loved brands in the world,” she said.
Anyango, like thousands of other Kenyans, said she switched to smart phones because of their various applications.
“I am a heavy user of the internet because I have to check emails from clients and log on to social network sites to chat with my friends but most importantly promote some of the products I sale. Hardly an hour passes without me going to the internet,” she said.
Smart phones, therefore, suits her needs since she rarely finds time to use a computer.
“As a salesperson, I am always on the move. I cannot find time to use a computer. I thus depend on my phone, which has served me well,” she said. Anyango too likes listening to music on her mobile phone and stores photos of various events she attends and places she goes. “Smart phones have a bigger storage capacity, which enable me to store my favorite songs and photos. It is just like having a radio and a camera, all in one,” she said.
Joram Njeru, another smart phone user, believes the phones will soon edge out others from the Kenyan market.
“In the past few months, we have seen various manufacturers striving to outdo each other with cheaper smart phones. As competition stiffens, we will see more affordable smart phones being brought in the market. They will eventually elbow out other mobile phones,” said the researcher. Njeru, who owns a smart phone worth 329 dollars, compared the phone to a computer.
“I check my emails on this phone and I have stored very important documents for my work, which I access whenever I want. The phone enables me to view full web pages thus making internet access friendly,” he said. The Kenyan market has been receptive to smart phones, in particular the low-end handsets. It all started with introduction of Chinese made Huawei IDEOS handsets over a year ago, which went for about 100 dollars. The mobile phone became the best selling smart phone in the East African nation since it removed a pricing barrier.
It is estimated that Huawei, which partners with telecom giant Safaricom to introduce the smart phone, has sold close to half a million phones. Analysts note this is an impressive fete in Kenya, where most smart phones namely Black Berry, Nokia, Motorola and Apple were a preserve of a few because of their high prices.
The success of IDEOS phones has made many manufacturers that include LG, Nokia and Samsung introduce their smart phones in the Kenyan market. The firms, like Huawei, have partnered with mobile phone operators, which offer key distribution channel.
Some of high-end phones in the Kenyan market include iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S11, Sonny Ericsson’s Xperia and Blackberry. The phones go for up to 1,176 dollars.
The smart phone craze in the East African nation has, however, come with its own downside. Criminals are targeting the mobile phones because they are selling faster in the black market.
“Most people are losing their mobile phones especially in public transport vehicles, where thieves prey on passengers,” said Anyango. Communication Commission of Kenya statistics indicate that there are currently about 29 million mobile phone users in the East African nation.