Mobile phones are essentially communication devices. The proliferation of smartphones in Nigeria is also considered a symbol of social class and mobile business ports. “The smartphone culture is growing amongst Nigerians and other African nation,” said Chika Maduegbuna, founder of Afrinolly. For a country where the number of smartphone users is projected to increase from 5.6 million to 35 million between 2013 and 2017, the smartphone business market holds enormous prospect for investors. Mobile phone companies are aware of this, and have not failed to spoil Nigerians for choice every year with new products. Considering the growth in the range of products by different brands, the decision-making process when buying a smartphone could be complicated. So, what brands do Nigerians eventually go for, and why?
First – Nokia: Nokia remains a handset of choice in Nigeria’s mobile phone market, with a market share of about 73 percent over the year through April, according to statistics by analytics firm Statcounter. The reason is because of the age-long reputation of the company to produce phones with long-lasting battery lives – an attractive feature for phone users in a country where power supply is irregular. Most Nigerians tend to own a Nokia along with their other phones, because of its reliable battery life.
Second – Blackberry: Sales of Blackberry smartphones by RIM may be dwindling in other countries, but that news probably does not make any difference to their Nigerian customers. The purchase of blackberry phones still remains steady, suffering only a minor drop with the emergence of Tecno brand and growth of other brands running on Android platforms. The fact that so many Nigerians still own Blackberry smartphones is a factor for RIM’s success in Nigeria. The variety of Blackberry phones and its perception as a status symbol contributes to the sales. Also, thanks to its variety and high end prices, the phone is seen as a status symbol, which helps to drive sales upward.
Third – Tecno: If you cannot afford a blackberry or an android but still want to ‘feel among’, a Tecno smartphone may be a good buy. The main selling point of this phone is its affordability, and despite its relative low quality, it is fast becoming one a popular phone amongst Nigerians.
Fourth – Samsung: Samsung did not start out with the manufacture of telephones when it was established in 1938. Not many people are aware of this fact. In 1969, Samsung diversified its business by venturing into electronics, and began the manufacture of mobile phones about a decade ago. Most people buy Samsung androids because of their versatility and functionality, which, impressively, improves with every new upgrade.
Fifth – iPhone: The iPhone is mostly attractive to its users because of its elitist appeal. It is easily the most expensive brand on this list, and is seen by most as a status symbol. A very good smartphone, it is known for its easy navigation, and the only disadvantage would be that it sometimes compromises functionality to fit its elitist standard.
Sixth – HTC: The HTC Desire, HTC Incredible and HTC Sensation are amongst the highest selling HTC smartphones in the Nigerian market, thanks to their affordable prices and reliable operating system. Although the two newest HTC phones – the One X and the One – may have aroused interest amongst the general phone loving public, their bank-breaking prices place these phones next to the esteemed iPhone and Blackberry brands, thereby causing sales to remain stagnant.
Seventh – Sony: This is a brand that remains an old darling in the hearts of many Nigerians. Just like Samsung and Nokia, this brand name is very familiar and is known for its quality products. However, they do not seem to be thriving in the Nigerian smartphone market, even with the release of the Xperia Z. One can only wonder the reason for Sony’s seeming poor performance when compared with competing brands.
Eighth – Huawei: Huawei has a limited smartphone market, and are rather rare in Nigeria, but their CDMA phones can still be found amongst subscribers to telecommunication service providers such as Visafone, Multilinks, and Starcomms.
Ninth – LG: The electronics company is not a stranger to most Nigerians, and their products can easily be found in most households. However, you are more likely to find their refrigerator, washing machine, or an air conditioner with Nigerians, than a smartphone.
Tenth – Motorola: There was a time when Motorola phones competed well with Nokia brands in the Nigerian market. Not anymore. When it comes to Motorola phones and Nigerians, suffice it to say that there has been a dearth of demand.