Yesterday, Xiaomi announced global availability of the most affordable Snapdragon 845 flagship smartphone of 2018, Pocophone F1. On that list are about 50 countries. Nigeria is not one of them, while countries like Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and India are on it.
Once again, the supposed giant of Africa and the continent’s fastest growing mobile market has been excluded from an exciting product. If you have followed the news in the last one year, you must be aware of all the great products that get announced for, say, India. When was the last time you read of a product announced specifically for the Nigerian market?
Transsion’s Domination Of Nigeria’s Mobile Market
There is no arguing the point that TECNO, Infinix and itel currently dominate Nigeria’s mobile landscape. What some may be missing in that picture is that we are talking about roughly 38 million smartphones in the hands of 25 million users. This is a country of close to 200 million people.
If Transsion’s domination is limited to a small segment, then there is room for other brands to step in and push. The million naira question then is this: Why are those other brands not doing it? Why, for example, is Xiaomi not pushing harder in Nigeria? Why is the Pocophone F1, with its great value, not coming to the country?
Pocophone F1, Infinix Zero 5, TECNO Phantom 8 Comparison
Here is a comparison table of key features of Transsion’s flagships with the Pocophone F1 base model.
|Item||Infinix Zero 5||TECNO Phantom 8||Pocophone F1|
|Screen||5.98 inches||5.7 inches||5.99 inches|
|Chipset||Helio P25||Helio P25||Snapdragon 845|
|Storage||64 GB||64 GB||64 GB|
|Battery||4,350 mAh + Fast Charge||3,500 mAh + Fast Charge||4,000 mAh + fast Charge|
|Price||NGN 103,000||NGN 119,000||NGN 106,500|
We can dance around everything else, but having a Snapdragon 845 for the price alone gives the Pocophone F1 the upper hand in this fight. Even TECNO and Infinix understand the demand for Snapdragon processors as seen in some of their most recent phone releases. However, there is more. The F1 has the Xiaomi Mi 8’s exemplary camera, which is number 8 on the list of the best camera phones of 2018.
A Snapdragon 845 flagship at the price of the Pocophone is a steal. The next most affordable Snapdragon 845 flagships cost from N150,000 upwards all the way into N300,000 territory.
It is clear that the issue is not that of inadequate value offering that Xiaomi is not selling the Pocophone F1 in Nigeria. If these 3 phones compared above are presented as the only available options to people who are hunting for a flagship device, most would pick the Xiaomi F1 in a heartbeat.
The Stigma of Chinese Products?
Could it be that Nigerians will not buy the F1 because it is an unknown Chinese brand? While Xiaomi is popular among techies, non-techies generally do not know the brand. The last time I used a Xiaomi phone, people would ask what brand it was and when I answered, they would say something like, “Which one is that again?”
That isn’t just my experience. Many techies who have gone the Xiaomi route will tell you similar stories.
I think though that Nigerians have largely overcome their aversion towards Chinese brands. People turned up their noses at TECNO years ago. Nigerians won’t buy, we were told. Look where they are today. Nigerians will buy well-priced products regardless of who makes them.
Hyundai is a Korean auto brand, not Chinese, but they went through a similar process. From being ignored and derided when the brand first made an entry into Nigeria, they are now selling tons of cars.
I am not convinced that people will not buy Xiaomi devices just because they are Chinese. They just do not know the brand enough.
How To Sell Smartphones In Nigeria
If Xiaomi (or indeed any other brand) wants to sell well in Nigeria, they need to do an aggressive push that makes sure that their products are highly visible. As terrible as it sounds, herd mentality is a thing here in Nigeria. In other words, the more people see others use your products, the more they are likely to buy and use them too.
Right now, Xiaomi is doing a strictly online sales (I won’t even call it a “push”) via Jumia, and perhaps a few other platforms. How many Nigerians are active online again? How many people can Xiaomi reach with that approach? Your guess is as good as mine. Innjoo hit the ground running with an online approach too. Look where it got them.
On the flip side, how has Transsion addressed the Nigerian market? A hard push that involved getting in people’s faces everywhere – markets, university campuses, et al. A total Blitzkrieg. No holds barred. That is how to sell and win in Africa’s largest country for now.
As a matter of fact, when the vocal techie elite were busy bashing TECNO in its early days, the brand was on the street winning the hearts of people.
The next point is related to the last one. Nigeria, as large as the population is, does not have a market that is viable enough yet to push significantly more smartphones in numbers that will make an aggressive Xiaomi push profitable at this time.
Nigeria’s Small, Saturated Smartphone Market
TECNO, Infinix and itel may be dominating the market, but there are over 150 million people without smartphones in Nigeria at this time. The problem is that most of them cannot afford to own one. How do you think itel became Africa’s biggest mobile phone brand?
In addition, the life cycle of the average smartphone in Nigeria runs into 3 years. Yes; people buy a smartphone and hold on to it for years till it falls apart and they have no choice than to replace it. If you change your smartphone every year, you belong to a very small segment of the population.
Think about it: as aggressively as Transsion brands have pushed, as aggressively as Samsung has pushed, in the entire country, only a population of about that of Lagos state has smartphones. The smartphone market in the country is not only small, it is saturated.
Perhaps Xiaomi sees the picture clearly. Perhaps Nigeria’s smartphone elite should not be so offended that they will not be getting their hands on the Pocophone F1 via official channels. It just might make better business sense for Xiaomi to send in their new $30 Qin 4G feature phone instead.
Does Pocophone work in Nigeria?
A number of Poco models have been produced since the F1. They include: X2, M2, M2 Pro, F2 Pro, and X3 NFC. All of them work in Nigeria, as they support compatible GSM, 3G, and various 4G bands.
To the best of my knowledge, they all support the most common 2G, 3G, and 4G bands in the country, so if you can get your hands on one in an unlocked state, you should have no trouble using it on Nigerian GSM networks.
How Can You Get The Poco F1 In Nigeria?
If you are in Nigeria and want a Pocophone, contact someone like Habeeb (07088535479). He can ship in any phone in the world for you. The rarer the phone, the better. He is a smartphone James Bond of sorts. And sooner or later, an outlet like Swot Solutions (08022891860) will have it in stock too. And they will deliver to you anywhere you are in the country.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.