With the recent opening up of the Android Market to 26 more African countries, the smartphone war in Africa has only really just begun. Before now, there was no war – there was Symbian as the supreme lord, and all others fighting insignificant guerilla campaigns.
Perhaps Android’s greatest asset on the African continent (and probably globally) is the Korean company named Samsung, and I will state why.
Samsung is the world’s second largest mobile manufacturer after Nokia.
Samsung it was who declared that they were going after Nokia in marketshare and aiming to take the top spot by 2014.
Samsung is that manufacturer whose devices get mentioned the most alongside Apples’ iOS devices, be it in the smartphone or tablet segments.
Samsung it is who have made a household name of their Galaxy brand. There is a Galaxy for everyone – touch, QWERTY, budget, premium, teenagers, students, etc, etc.
According to market research firm IDC’s 1st quarter 2011 figures, Samsung is currently the world’s number 4 smartphone manufacturer (after Nokia, Apple and RIM at numbers 1, 2 and 3 respectively). On the African continent, both Apple and RIM are not doing as fine, and Samsung holds the number 2 position here. Note, this is smartphones.
Samsung, I daresay, is the manufacturer to watch on almost all fronts.
While there has been a general conception that Apple is the greatest threat to Nokia, the truth is that the honour goes to Samsung. And here on the African continent (and indeed here in Nigeria), it is Samsung who will drive Android adoption rates from west to east, and north to south.
With all the noise of the BlackBerry craze, BlackBerry adoption on the contiment has largely remained a niche phenomenom, limited to mostly elite circles. Of course, with the introduction of more mid-range BlackBerry devices, RIM is looking to see BB adoption rates grow some more.
It will take some time, but Samsung are aggressive and seem to have hit a homerun with their Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Nokia’s switch from Symbian to Windowsphone as primary smartphone OS will help Samsung’s cause. It means that Symbian’s share will drop further and certainly more drastically.
Years ago, Motorola fell from the coveted position of the world’s largest mobile manufacturer, but they are not doomed. They are in business and churning out great products. I do not believe that Nokia is doomed in anyway.
Such a transition on the scale that Nokia is making will – even if only in the short-medium term – slow down the Finnish giant in some way. And even if Nokia loses the top spot in the long term, I do not belong to the camp of those who see doom with all things Nokia.
Nokia will need to speed up their delivery process. Nokia will need to convince hard-core Symbian fans to switch to Windowsphone. Nokia will need to find a way to offer Nokia Windowsphone smartphones at budget levels (a hard task, considering Windowsphone minimum specifications). Its going to be a tough job. And while Nokia is at all that, Samsung who have built tremendous momentum over the years, will be pushing. Pushing hard.
Without doubt, this transition from Symbian to Windowsphone will be at a significant cost to Nokia. And guess who will be closing fast while this transition takes place? Samsung, of course. And this Korean love affair with Android looks exactly like the right recipe for this brutal campaign to take the number one spot.
Globally, Samsung is already closing in on Nokia in the smartphone race. If they pull it off in Africa, Samsung would have succeeded in taking a major Nokia stronghold and getting closer to their objectives.
Ladies and gentlemen, however this turns out, things sure are getting more interesting by the day.
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