Despite being miles ahead in the beginning of 2008 when Google’s Android was not in the picture, Apple products have fallen behind its main competitor with Android now controlling more than 70 percent of all iInternet searches related to the two smartphones platforms.
According to Angela Mumo, head of corporate affairs at Telkom Kenya who are the main retailers of the iPhones in Kenya, price has remained the biggest barrier hindering many Kenyans from accessing the device.
She puts the range of the fastest going iPhones at between KSh40,000 and KSh120,000, prices she says are out of reach for many Kenyans.
“With the upsurge of Smartphones mobile phone users now want more functionality attracting them to phones like I-phones however the price has locked many out of its reach,” laments Mumo.
She adds that although the iPhone 3G can go for as low as KSh25,000, many iPhone users are unlikely to take up an old model with many changing their handsets regularly with every new launch.
As for another primary reason why the iPhone is yet to attract as many users, she points out to the company being the sole vendor offering the high-end handsets on a post paid service, whereas Kenya remains a pre-paid market.
Comparing the iPhone to the ZTE Blade (retailing as Orange San Francisco) handset which the company also retails, she says there is a great appetite for Android phones some of which can sell for as little as KSh5,000.
The availability of free and cheaper apps on the Android market has also given its competitor a run for its money.
It is however not that gloomy for the Apple product as she points out that more and more corporate firms are picking it up for their employees because of the availability of many multinationals in the country, while many employers also tend to prefer the post paid service.
“We are seeing an increased uptake of iPhones by employers for their employees basically because they can afford and because of our corporate customers enlisted on our post-paid service,” Mumo said.
Unlike the slow uptake of Apple handsets, companies manufacturing low-end smartphones in the Android platform for the Kenyan market have harvested big mainly from Huawei and Samsung.
According to a report by GFK Retail and Technology, in mid 2011, Huawei managed to sell over 60,000 IDEOS U8150 units with the company putting the sales of Huawei U8150 at over 350,000 by end 2011.The Chinese manufacturer has however since lost its market share to Samsung which controls over 50 percent of the smartphone market.
Samsung has reaped big this year with its galaxy model controlling over 30% market share in the smart phone sphere selling over an approximated 10,500 unit sales monthly.
Other major brands in the market include Sony Ericson with its Xperia model and LG with its Optimus model. Nokia and Alcatel are also slowly leaping into the Smartphone market after a long absence.