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

Nigeria: The Fairly Used Smartphone Market

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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.


  1. I doubt if manufacturers will bother themselves about the second hand market because its just a re classification of their market share. Market share reduces in developed countries and increases in developing countries.

    But one thing to also note is that if a person buys a used device and enjoys it, their probability of buying a new device could increase especially if and when they have the purchasing power.

    Furthermore, UK used blackberry phones are quite good.

  2. anything electronic is something I’d rather buy used.

    an electronic equipment fails in the first few hours of use, if it is destined to fail.

    in this era of touchscreen phones and replaceable “covers”, buying a spanking new phone (instead of well_used) may just be satisfying a psychological, rather than practical need.

    like cars, it makes greater financial sense to buy used. the question is how Well_Used

    while the manufacturers may not gain DIRECTLY from our used_smartphone market, they do so INDIRECTLY. all those second hand handsets will be replaced by the original owners one way or the other, adding to the bottomlines of the manufacturers..

    all in all, the USED phone market should continue to thrive for the foreseeable future.

  3. I have always believed that blackberry gets a cut of our BIS fees since the provide servers etc to maintain the network. If so, then the more devices in the country, the more their revenue from Nigeria.

    A user in the UK or US who can sell his phone at a good price will be encouraged to buy from the same manufacturer. This will eventually lead to increased phone turnover ie increased sales.

    Companies like apple sell refurbished products at top-notch prices. By doing so, apple reduces its losses on damaged products and even earns profit on some goods. This doesn’t take into account the numerous apps you may end up buying on the device

  4. I’ve actually been debating where to sell my Lumia when the time comes as I’m going for an upgrade (and yes, I’m already have my next Lumia in sight!)

    You’ve settled it for me Mr Mo, thanks! 😀

  5. I’m thinking of buying a UK used Lumia 920 here in Nigeria. I’ve actually never bought a used phone before. So I’m wondering how durable UK used phones are. Do problems showcase after few months of usage?

  6. please i need fairly used Apple Phone 4 (four) and the price in the market. Advice me where to get it in Abuja here.thanks. contact me on 08066895312.also anyone who is selling his phone to contact me as well.

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