MOBILE network operator Safaricom, said yesterday the cost of third generation network (3G) enabled smartphones remains a major deterrent to mobile data penetration in the country. Head of retail sales Jannet Atika said the cost of 3G-supported phones is still out reach for majority of Kenyans.
East Africa's most profitable company said it has made a strategic decision to partner with smartphone manufacturers in a "win-win" bid to make the price friendly to majority of close to 32 million mobile phone subscribers.
"The future of our industry is in mobile data," she said. "With the deployment of 3G network and the ongoing testing of 4G, there is big room to put cheaper smartphones out there."
Smartphones account for an average of 67 per cent of total sales through Safaricom shops, Atika added.
Safaricom whose mobile data revenue grew 43 per cent in half year period to last September has partnered with the latest smartphone maker to enter Kenyan market, Infinix Mobility, to retail the latter's devices at its shops.
"We think there's a room for Infinix to get a very good market share in Kenya because we use the same operating system as the market leaders here but our phones come with enhanced capabilities," director of business development at Infinix Jean Sebastien Coste said. "We expect to be in the top three within one year."
Infinix is a joint venture of Mobiwire (previously Sagem Wireless) and Earning Way and is in eight countries that also include France, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
Safaricom said its market share was now at 79.45 per cent which is more that official data by Communications Authority of Kenya that put its share at 73.2 per cent as at last September.
Airtel, Essar's yUMobile and Telkom's Orange controlled 14.3, 7.3 and 5.2 per cent of mobile data market, respectively.