I was at the famous Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos last week and got the shock of my life. I saw tons and tons of relatively unknown mobile brands that I had not seen before. On banners, on t-shirts, on posters, everywhere I turned, there was one new or strange mobile brand. And they were all Chinese.
You know the highly visible ones: TECNO, Innjoo, iTel. Here are some of the others:
- Blue Gate
- Ken Xin Da
- MBO (this brand even has a service centre there in Ikeja)
I am sure that there are more that I must have missed. Beyond banners and all, I did see some actual devices of the above brands, and quite a few of them looked really good. Many looked quite bland and uninspiring, but of course, the target market (the bottom of the pyramid) really does not care for the fancy stuff. The phones are very cheap, and that is it.
While Nigeria’s middle and upper class stay glued on the big brands, it is these smaller, China-produced devices that are putting smartphones in the hands of the majority of Nigerians who live below the poverty line. It is mostly these that are driving the huge gains in the country’s smartphone penetration.
Computer Village (read: the Nigerian smartphone market) is now Chinese. But then, the global mobile market began a shift to China a few years ago. No surprises.