Nigeria: The Fairly Used Smartphone Market

Running into someone asking for the cost of a fairly used Nokia Lumia 620 stopped me dead in my tracks. I mean, a hard screeching halt!! You see, the Lumia 620 was released only in January and hasn’t been in the country for a month, and someone is already asking for a fairly used unit to purchase!

Lumia 620

To paint the picture more clearly, it is also well known, for example, that the BlackBerry smartphone market share in Nigeria is largely driven by second-hand purchases. Usually, retailers import used or refurbished units from the United States, UAE, or the United Kingdom for sale here. The driving force of this scenario is the much lower costs of these used devices. Price is simply a factor that cannot be ignored in the Nigerian smartphone market.

For the most part, only consumers and the networks benefit in tangible terms from the used smartphone market. Consumers get their dream phones at bargain prices. Networks get users who spend something, no matter how little, on using those devices. Whether its voice calls, SMS or internet services, the networks do get something. The same cannot be said for the manufacturers. The used devices market puts nothing in their pockets. Nothing. Well….to be sure, the manufacturers do get something. It isn’t just anything really tangible. They get their market share boosted.

BlackBerry, for example, was the number one smartphone brand in the country by market share a year ago. The current situation is unknown yet. But that market dominance was dependent on the huge and vibrant used smartphone market, meaning that though they “owned” the Nigerian smartphone market, it wasn’t by direct sales and hence yielded no income to them. Tough. Nokia has been pushing lower priced Lumia devices to boost their sales. But if Nigerians are already hunting for used units of a less than three month released Lumia, tough luck with those sales figures.

This is a tough place for any brand to do business. The gray market is too strong a factor in how things play out here. I suspect that the picture cannot be significantly different in much of the emerging world. Welcome to the world of used mobile devices.

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  1. Udegbunam Chukwudi March 10, 2013
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