Whenever there is an event to launch a phone in Kenya, journalists and bloggers usually ask whether there is a plan to customise local apps. It usually a great question until you start thinking about Kenyan market and what people look for when they go to buy a phone. For start, the only app which could make a consumer choose one phone over the other is MPESA. I think if MPESA is missing from a phone a Kenyan would think twice before buying the given phone. But with time it has become common to all phones that I don’t think there is any consumer who think that mpesa might be missing from a given phone. So why do journalists and bloggers keep on thinking that local apps usually affect the choice of consumers when they are buying phones?
To be honest local apps are missing from the conscious of many consumers, and those who have them on their phones just do so for curiosity sake and not that they are using them. Yours truly has quite a number on my phone because I review them but that is all. This post came up due to the action of Tecno which recently partnered with Zalego to have customised apps in their phones for Kenyan market. Read the story here.
Practically what Kenyans are looking for in a phone from my experience are the following:
1. Is it trendy:
Many people ended up buying Samsung Galaxy phones because they are the in thing despite the the fact that LG had some cheap options and almost of the same quality. In fact, the people who have used HTC phones believe that they are of better quality than the same version of Samsung. The same applies to the people buying Apple iPad instead of Samsung tabs. Credit to Samsung as they do a lot of marketing and try as much as they can to connect with Kenyan market as compared to the likes of LG and HTC. When comes to iPad then there is no explanation apart from it being Trendy. Apple’s presence in Kenya is next to zero.
2. Price Level:
The first question people ask whenever they hear a phone being launched is the price. Majority would want to know the price before asking what else is good with a given phone. Because of that Kenya is thought of as a price sensitive market. What I have noticed is that the price sensitivity depend on what level you are talking about. Ideos took Kenyan market by storm two years ago and the thinking then was that because of its price level . That made sense then but looking around now, then not many people have ideos phones as it was back then. The successor of the original Ideos, Ascend Y 100, was a big flop despite the fact that it followed the same channel. Same pricing level, same distributor in the name of Safaricom . Ideos retails at Ksh.8K with addons from Safaricom, while the other phones like galaxy Pocket, Intel Yolo, which took over go for 10K and above. In a way you may think that the quality has started to matter to people than just the price.
3. Specifications of the phone / Quality
The reason why Kenya was a Nokia country for a long time until recently when Samsung took over, was because of the quality of their phones. At each price level you would go to a shop and get a quality phone. But in between the perception what a phone should be changed and Nokia is now playing catch especially on the world of smartphones. It worth noting that Nokia did quite well with Asha 305, marketing it as a music phone, under the banner “break the beat”. Their success actually provoked Samsung to design a new phone named Samsung Galaxy Music, which they introduced to the market recently. It will be interesting to see how Galaxy music fare on in comparison with Nokia success with Asha 305. Talking of specifications, Galaxy Music and especially Intel Yolo came to the market with much better specs than many other phones retailing at the same level. I think that what has made Intel Yolo an overnight success in the Kenyan market.
4. Social Media sharing Tools
The ability to share on the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter matters to Kenyan more than the local apps would be in the near future. At the moment many people like the Android platform, because there are many third party apps for sharing on Facebook and twitter. On the same line people are still evaluating Nokia Lumia series in Kenya because they still can’t see a better way that they can share with their friends on social media. That might change with time for Lumia, as new apps roll in for Windows platform. It is important to note at this point that there is a new great Twitter App for Windows.
Please tell me what you look for when buying a phone?