Lucky Kenyans. They are benefiting from an ongoing $100 smartphone price war between IDEOS and Samsung. On one side, you have the Huawei IDEOS U8150, which Safaricom introduced two years ago for just $80. Between 200,000-300,000 original IDEOS X-1 have sold to date, making it the most popular smartphone in Kenya. I bought 8 of them when I was in Kenya in 2011.
That smartphone model is now joined by the Huawei Ascend Y100, also via Safaricom, for about $100. TechMtaa reports that it is bundled with a Ksh 1,000 in airtime, 7 days unlimited SMS and 1.5GB of free data bundle. The phone comes with Android 2.3 GingerBread but is SIM-locked it to the Safaricom network.
Not to be left behind, Samsung aims to double its share of the sub-Saharan smartphone market to 20 percent by next year, mainly through the Galaxy Pocket s5300, which it is selling for about $115. Sadly, early reports say that the Pocket doesn’t look or feel as high quality as the cheaper Huawei Ascend, but that doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is that more and more smartphones are pricing at $100 or less, and the quality of the phones are getting better with every version. The continuing price war is allowing more and more Kenyans (and all of East Africa) get online faster. Now that’s not good news for everyone. As Moses Kemibaro points out, there are losers in the mobile phone marketplace:
As of this writing, we probably have as many as 10 Android smartphone models retailing for under Kes. 10,000.00 in Kenya – including Dual-SIM models. It therefore goes without saying that when it comes to entry-level smartphones, Google’s Android has all the potential to wipe out Nokia and BlackBerry in Kenya.
But do not cry for either phone manufacturer. Instead, celebrate the benefits of the $100 smartphone price war for all Africans.