Kenya is among the leading markets for smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa with over 100,000 smartphones sales each month. The fight to dominate the Kenyan Mobile market has intensified and the recent entry of two brands Tecno and Infinix is sending ripples down the spines of established brands like HTC, Samsung among others, do these two brands have what it takes to sweep the market?
INFINIX formerly dubbed Sagem a brand that entered and left Kenya twice as fast in the years 2002-2005 had been quite popular due to its low prices and design. Sagem rebranded to Infinixand is offering phone models ranging from Infinix x570, Infinix race-bolt, to name but a few. The phones are designed in France and then assembled in China by a joint venture Mobiwire (Formerly Sagem) and Earning way (Chinese company), Infinix is a company founded in Hong Kong.
TECNO is a Chinese based mobile phone manufacturer founded in Shanghai in 2006. Now, Tecno does business exclusively in Africa and wants to be the mobile king of Africa, they have already established a manufacturing plant in Ethiopia and expects to roll similar plants in Kenya and Nigeria soon. The brand has decided to focus on a youth market of 17-35 years.
These two brands operate on Android a strong operating system used by the other brands mentioned above with same access to thousands of applications from the Android Market. They can also be rooted or system upgraded to enhance functionalities.
Tecno and Infinix have introduced different high quality models to suit the low, middle and high-end. Infinix has gone ahead to partner with Safaricom to introduce the Alpha Marvel retailing at 29,999 with 500MB worth of data upon purchase, the two brands are available in different online platforms and at retail centres countrywide complete with experience centres where customers can sample the models.
According to Robinson Murage, PR &Marketing Coordinator, JUMIA, Kenya’s leading online retailer, the sales for the two brands are almost at par with Tecno leading as Infinix trails close. Tecno is favoured by its earlier entry before Infinix, 3 out of 10 customers prefer Tecno while every 2 of 10 customers prefer Infinix.
“Majority of Kenyans make their decisions on what mobile phone to buy based on cost, design and looks, operating system and other things like network, connection, camera and battery life. Techno and Infinix offerlow cost-high feature phones, it’s what everyone wants,” Murage adds.
A blend of elegance, sleek design, affordability and a feature rich smartphone is what consumers want, Michael Mwandia, a retail store owner along Moi avenue shares, “The fear of losing an expensive phone or getting robbed has driven the middle class to prefer cheap, presentable, feature rich smartphones. Tecno and Infinix provide that.”
Africa remains the fastest growing market in the world, the competition is fierce and the constant launch of new products and services is the norm. Internet penetration and the narrowing digital divide is what most companies are looking to bank on, however counterfeit phones remain a menace and government support is vital in combating the challenge.
The target is set for Tecno and Infinix, the arrows are drawn, the order has been given and the spectators are chanting, we are waiting for a hit or a miss, time will tell.