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

The Smartphone War in Africa – Samsung takes on Nokia

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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.

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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.

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Samsung it was who declared that they were going after Nokia in marketshare and aiming to take the top spot by 2014.

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Samsung is that manufacturer whose devices get mentioned the most alongside Apples’ iOS devices, be it in the smartphone or tablet segments.

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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.

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Samsung, I daresay, is the manufacturer to watch on almost all fronts.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ladies and gentlemen, however this turns out, things sure are getting more interesting by the day.

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9 comments

  1. Very Nice Article, coherent and excellently written. In fact this is an issue that is presently generating a lot of heat on the international scene. Those guys at Samsung are really making the world have a new exhilarating feel of mobile technology, and delivering very fast at the same time. They are almost telling the mobile industry that the rapidly advancing mobile technology path may no longer fit for Big Belly Sprinters who has become too sluggish in delivering (e.g Nokia) and the spectators (Nokia fans) are rapidly loosing patient at watching him cause “Go Slow” or “Hold Up” for the upcoming Vibrant and Energetic Sprinters like Samsung. Hope u get my analogy.
    Google should give kudos to Samsung because they are the No 1 marketer of Android. The type of screen technology with which they are delivering high end Android Phones even make it more juicy and a heart catcher. Almost everyday we read new innovation in mobile technology from samsung and this is really making some nokia adept to begin to loose their grip. In fact Nokia has a lot of work to do here in order to restore confidence in the hearts of their loyalists because Samsung is fast sweeping them to Android already.

  2. Serious food for thought.

    Lookss like the saying, ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ has no meaning in Samsung’s lexicon!

    Samsung is a great case-study on how a business can successfully juggle so many disparate products, and still be a leader in almost all..

    with Samsung’s superior ELECTRONICS manufacturing know-how, all they need are talented designers, and I see them eventually taking the top-spot in the smartphone / tablet bloody brawl..

  3. well said i was a hardcore symbian fan using almost every new nokia symbian phone announced but since the transition to windowsphone i left the symbian wagon for the samsung, galaxy s to b precise. it was byebye c7, byebye nokia, hello samsung

  4. It’s going to take a while before the catch up with Nokia in the Feature Phones space, but I am happy to see the initiative Samsung is taking in making Smartphones more affordable

  5. I can remember back in those days while I was still an addicted sonyericsson user, I saw Samsung phones as inferior when compared to not just my sonyericsson but also other brands. I never gave Samsung any chance. everywhere I see their phones then my sonyericssons always stand tall, in U.I, functionality and physical builed. then when i started rating phones based on their software, I still didn’t give Samsung any chance, I went for the winmo running sonyericsson x1 instead of the Samsung omnia which was also running same software.

    now today, I cannot afford to ignore Samsung anymore. they have truly done their homework well. they are not only running one of the best os (android) but also on devices that must “woooow” any user. if told 2-3years ago I will be using a Samsung device today,my answer would have been NEVER. The super amoled screen is the best I have ever seen. I was checking out an HTC Desire HD earlier today and its black content is not even half as rich as on my sgs. even the owner of the HTC device (also running android) had to commend my phone for not requiring video conversion to play movies on it. most formats (if not all) are supported. I just throw in the movies and watch on the go, HD quality with surround sound audio. I always feel like in the silverbird cinemas when watching movies on my sgs with the hands-free.

    I also need to mention that Samsung has set standards in the areas of weight and slim nature of today’s devices. now I am very particular about having my smartphone being very slim and light weight. don’t want anything bulky in my jeans. only Samsung is meeting these criteria.

    earlier today during the downpour in Lagos I fell into a deep pool of water, my sgs was in my pocket. I got out, went straight for my phone, all covered in water there in my pocket. brought it out, opened it up,used a rag to mop out the water inside, sun-dried for a while, put it back together, turned it on, voala!

    I see a lot more than Samsung battling Nokia in Africa but also their galaxy s phones out-selling apple’s iPhones. to be precise, i see sgs2 selling more than the up-coming iphone5, my prediction.

  6. Thats right, Nokia is not doomed neither is Symbian. but with the USB host coming with honeycomb, samsung will definately take advantage of that and release external hardwares for their Andriod devices which will futher eat into Nokia’s share… Symbian^3 already has the usb host but no hardware

    @ Bulushi; the only way I think galaxy s or s2 will out-sell Iphone is if the price is half that of iphone or you conparing with iphone 3 or 3gs

  7. @belushi : i’m a huge fan of sgs, its gonna b my nxt device. but my question is, could it serve as a modem. cos if I decide to jump out of d symbian bandwagon, this feature matters most to me in every nokia device i’v ever used.

  8. @ DOUGLAS, i am comparing this year’s releases of both iphone and galaxy s, which are the sgs2 (samsung) and the iphone5 (apple). presently their prices may not be so far apart. iphones are known to be around $800-$900 at launch and the pre-oders for the sgs2 is $850 (depending on outlet). though samsung prices do drop faster than that of apple, i dont think that will be the primary factor for sgs2 sales success, instead, its the fact that sgs2 is packed to the brim. it offers a lot more than the present iphone4 (& expectedly the iphone5 as apple will still retain its restrictions). android market is open to much more countries than apple store. Though i read on a blog that apple’s iphone5 is planned to be less expensive to battle android devices, not sure how true it is.

    @ FRED, the sgs serves as modem and a whole lot more. you can also use its mobile ap functionality to turn your sgs into a hotspot. Some times at home and in the office, i beam the internet service on my sgs to 3-5 other devices through wifi. i hardly use it as modem for my lappy alone, because thats just between two devices. but once i get home and turn on the mobile ap on my sgs, i can log on to my lappy, turn on its wifi and start browsing. also my wife may want to switch to my internet connection on her bold2, so she just turns on her wifi & straight she is connected. if i were to be using it as a modem on my lappy, my wife wont be able to connect to it as she likes.

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