China wins big as Africans demand cheaper smartphones

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Samsung revealed its new flagship smartphones the Galaxy S8 and S8+ last, night but data out from IDC this week suggests the company might have problems moving units in Africa.

In 2016 215.33 million mobile phones were shipped to Africa, representing a 10.1% increase year-on-year, but the lions share of those shipped phones were feature phones.

In total 119.97 million feature phones hit African shores in 2016, representing a market share of 56%.

“Many African economies struggled throughout 2016, and this had an inevitable knock-on effect on the smartphone market, which had previously experienced a very strong 2015,” says director for mobile devices at IDC Simon Baker.

The IDC reports that while brands such as Samsung are popular among Africans, that popularity is dwindling. Samsung smartphone shipments to Africa totaled just 28 million units, and following close behind is Chinese vendor Transsion.

“The second-placed smartphone vendor was Transsion, widely known throughout Africa via its itel, Infinix, and Tecno brands. And in terms of feature phone shipments, Transsion comfortably outperformed its main competitors in 2016,” reports the IDC.

Huawei remains the third most popular brand on the continent, and the IDC says that there is good reason Chinese manufacturers such as them are making in-roads in Africa.

“To grow significantly in these markets, vendors have to be able to address the continent’s large low-income population by providing phones that are priced very competitively. As such, global vendors are cautious of the lower-priced Chinese brands now entering the market and are keeping a close eye on them,” research manager for mobile devices at IDC, Ramazan Yavuz says.

You don’t have to look far to see this. The Xiaomi Redmi 4A for instance is an extremely competent little handset that retails for just under R2 000.

So while we are all enamoured with the Galaxy S8, the IDC’s research suggests that many Africans are just ogling the phone and won’t end up buying one.

Find smartphone deals for R200 or less on Phonefinder.

[Source – IDC][Image – Pixabay]


Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.