The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Customised Smartphones Enter Market

The year 2010 marked a turning point in Kenya's smartphone use. Almost everyone knows the Huawei IDEOS and not because of the bright colours. The device came loaded with an Android operating system, thousands of Apps and the most attractive thing about the phone was the price of Sh8000 while most other Smartphones cost Sh30,000 and above. Within the first few months it had sold about 100,000 phones.

Since then the market has seen a transformation in demand for smartphones across all economic classes. Device makers like Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, LG, Techno last year were racing to release one device after the other to meet this demand with prices range from as low as Sh7000 to Sh60,000.

With the increased competition, the focus is now shifting to custom-making phones for the market. The African market is poised to be big in the coming years as data is available in plenty and there is wider technology knowledge that is seeing a rise in innovations and the general excitement about being connected.

"I think everyone now thinks the Africa market is going to be big in the next few years. Most companies are now taking the market seriously," says Kennedy Kachwanya, a local tech blogger.

In the last two weeks, two smart devices have been introduced in the market. They are:

Huawei 4Afrika:

The Huawei 4Afrika is a customised version of the Huawei Ascend W1, launched earlier this year. It is using the Microsoft's Windows 8 Operating System. Available exclusively for the African market, the Huawei 4Afrika phone features a customized Store in Store with a variety of applications and exclusive content including those built and designed by Africans for Africans. It features Microsoft Office and Skydrive for easy access to files.

Though the device maker is yet to announce the price and the local retail partner it is projected will cost around Sh10,000.

The smartphone is 10.15 mm thin and features a 4-inch IPS LCD 480 x 800 touchscreen. It has a 1730 mAh Li-Polymer battery and unique power saving technology, the Huawei 4Afrika phone provides up to 420 Hours of standby time and up to 560 minutes of talk time on 3G given power is a scarce resource here.

Yolo

This is the first smartphone for Africa by global corporation Intel. It was launched two weeks ago here in Nairobi.

"Intel did their launch exclusively in Kenya which was very interesting , I think they are taking everything around here seriously," Kachwanya says

The Yolo smartphone is based on the Intel Smartphone Reference Design for the value segment of the smartphone market. Te company announced it will retail at Sh11,000. The device is powered by the Intel® AtomTM processor Z2420 with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology that can achieve speeds of up to 1.2 GHz. The efficiency of this technology package helps to enable a smooth and responsive user experience like an advanced camera and video camera with capabilities.

Local innovators and consumers stand to gain as the global firms are working with local developers to include the local content, some preloaded on the phones.

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