Last week and this week, Mobility Arena went out to cop a feel of Wiko’s new Ufeel range of smartphones. Our little group went from Pursch to Pointek to Yudala to Slot to 3C HUB and others. We toured Computer Village, the largest smartphone market on the continent. Everywhere we looked, Wiko’s most compelling smartphones were no where to be found. In many cases, there were no Wiko phones on display at all.
The French smartphone brand is majority-owned by Chinese technology group, Tinno Mobile and its phones are manufactured in China. Wiko entered the Nigerian market in 2014 with a handful of models. While some of those early models were uninspiring, in recent times, the brand has produced a line up of devices that look really good and have respectable specs.
Remnants Of The Past
At the stores where we found one or two phones on display, those phones were much older 2014 models running Android 4 KitKat. Wiko’s exciting looking, new Ufeel range of smartphones are no where to be found. Not the Wiko Ufeel Prime, Wiko Ufeel Lite, Wiko Ufeel Fab nor any of the more recent models were available anywhere.
We saw on display the Wiko Lenny and one other older model that escapes my mind now. And only at one store. That was it for Wiko phones. Note that a slew of newer models, including the Lenny 2 and Lenny 3, have since been launched.
The Recession Is Great Opportunity
Wiko phones appear to offer good value for money at the bottom and mid sections of the pyramid. These segments are hot in the Nigerian smartphone market. Nigeria has always been a price-sensitive market and the ongoing recession has only made it more so. Brands like TECNO, Infinix, iTel and Gionee are making a killing of off this. Even Samsung has made moves to try grab a piece of the pie. It is sad to see Wiko waste the opportunity.
Getting to have a conversation with Wiko officials has been harder than squeezing an elephant through the eye of a needle. There are no telephone numbers listed on the Wiko Nigeria website. The last time I submitted a message through the contact form there, I got no response. As such, we are unable to get Wiko’s side of this development.
An attendant at one of the retail stores we visited this week asked me, “Are you aware that Wiko is dying?” My response was, “That wouldn’t be a surprise if it is true. At every store we visited, we met empty Wiko stands.”
I hope that she is wrong and that this is just a temporary situation that Wiko will quickly rectify.