Why Are Africans Ditching Feature Phones For Smartphones?

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

According to the latest Mobile Phone Tracker report from the International Data Corp (IDC), more and more Africans are  ditching their feature phones for smartphones as Android and iOS supported devices become cheaper.

The reports shows that feature phones, which have limited internet access due to their low memory space,  sale dropped 20 percent year-on-year and only 27 percent of theses cellphones will be sold in Africa and the Middle East by 2019.

On the other hand, smartphones shipment to Africa are seen rising to 155 million units percent in 2015, after jumping 66 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with 47 percent of cellphones sold in the quarter being smartphones.

“The growth in smartphones in the Middle East and Africa region is being spurred on by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, with the two platforms accounting for over 95 percent of the smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2015,” Tech Central quoted IDC saying.

In a previous report an IDC report showed that Africa recorded a 83 percent growth in smartphones in 2014, resulting in a market share of 42 percent compares to features phones, fin24.com reported.

Devices featuring Android operating system are the most common in many African markets, with a 89 percent market share, while Apple’s iOS comes a distant second with a markets share of only 7 percent.

Low priced devices

“The strong growth in the region’s smartphone market is largely being driven by the emergence of low-priced devices that are primarily powered by Android,” IDC said, adding that nearly half of all smartphones shipping across Africa in the first quarter of 2015 were priced below $100 per unit, while almost three-quarter were priced below $200 per unit.

According to the report Samsung, Techno and Apple were the leading smartphone vendors in Africa during the quarter, with the three vendors accounting for 55 percent of the continent’s smartphone shipment during the period.

Blackberry, which at some point commanded the largest market share in Africa, has suffered significant decline across the region, shedding 14 percent in terms of amount of shipment to the continent.

“The launch of a number of new models by the vendor seems to have had little impact on lifting the BlackBerry brand out of its continuing decline,” said Isaac Ngatia, a senior research analyst at IDC in a statement.

“The loss of the corporate segment, spurred by the continued uptake of bring-your-own-device policies among the region’s enterprises, has had an adverse effect on BlackBerry’s performance in the market.”