Nokia Trying A come back in Kenya with a new GM in Town

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Nokia has a new sheriff in town ready to take the challenge of getting Nokia back on track in Kenya. Mr. Bruce Howe, is the new General Manager of Kenya, a position  last held by Mr. Kenneth Oyolla.  Keneth Oyolla  now heads Global Market Activation at Nokia  with an office in  London. We had a chance to chat with Nokia new head, in an event meant to introduce him to the bloggers and journalists.


Bruce Howe, The GM Kenya…pic courtesy of

Nokia has been on a downward spiral both internationally and locally for sometime. The big problem for Nokia in Kenya is the emergence of low the end Andoid smartphones like Huawei Ideos , Samsung Galaxy Mini, Galaxy pocket and LG L3.  Nokia phones of the same price range can not be really  called smartphones.  Ok..I know this will bring in the  question of what is the definition of a smartphone!! But series 40s aimed at the next billion are not smartphones by any definition or name. Asha range of phones are meant to bridge the gap but they are not smartphones, simple.

Nokia current strategy is targeting the youth with their LetsQwerty campaign.  Great idea but there is that little problem with the so called youth. The  generation Y, might look to be receptive to a number of things but they are  ready to experiment with anything new in the market. The long held loyalty to specific brands are  no longer there and  it is the reason why Nokia has to bring in the Windows phones in Kenya to match the experience given by the Android phones as soon as yesterday. Unfortunately when you ask Nokia when the Windows phones will be here, they keep on talking of first having in place  three things:  Local content, the market place support and the local language support. Great stuff when you hear them from horses mouth but then you look back  and ask yourself how much do people really care about the three.

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I think the four things people care about so much around here are  whether they can use Mpesa(Sim toolkit), call, text and access social media. The others, are secondary and can come in later. Once the phone has a Sim toolkit then it is already perfect fit for the market. For that, it is beyond my understanding on what Nokia is still waiting for, before they bring  in the Windows phones.

The latest research by Inmobi found out that Nokia still have overall lead in the Kenyan phone market but Samsung is now the king of smarphones in Kenya.   Here is part of the narrative of the inMobi report

Not surprisingly smartphone penetration continues to grow steadily in Kenya, this can be seen by the increase of 0.5% in ad impressions from Q1 to Q2 2012 to now constitute 10.4% of all ad impressions on the inMobi Ad Network. Smartphones are giving people primary access to news, email and social networks, especially those people in lower income brackets who do not have daily access to computers. While the Feature phones continue to dominate, their market share is feeling the impact of the growing Smartphone market.

Here is part of what the new CEO had to say on an interview with :

 Nokia phones are renowned for their quality and reliability. That legacy continues. Right now, Nokia has two distinct businesses when it comes to handsets – smart phones and mobile phones. In the smart phone space, we are focused on the Nokia Lumia range based on Windows Phone platform. The phones are beautifully designed and available in a wide range of colours that really stand out from other smart phones. The Windows Phone operating system is also incredibly simple and intuitive to use, plus it is quite simply the most social phone. If you look at something like the people hub, it offers clear benefits over other smart phones. However, the real differentiation comes from the services that Nokia adds to the Lumia range – things like Nokia Maps and Drive and Nokia Mix Radio. Currently Lumia is available in selected markets but we continue to roll out country by country. We look forward to when consumers in East Africa will be able to experience the Nokia Lumia range.

Here is the panel discussion about the Windows phones organized by Mwirigi

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