The countdown to what appears to be the first proper product launch by Xiaomi Nigeria is on, and there has been some excitement in the market. Understandably so too.
Xiaomi has been coming to Nigeria since forever, without exactly ever arriving. The brand pushed a few models in Nigeria in 2015 through Jumia, and MobilityArena even got to review the Xiaomi Mi 4. In 2016, a Xiaomi representative who was in the country met up with me and spoke of an impending launch of the Mi 5 and redmi Note 3 in Nigeria. But that did not happen either.
By mid-2017, Xiaomi smartphones were hitting stores in Lagos, but that was short-lived. A key part of the problem was a legal face-off between Xiaomi and African mobile brand, mi-Fone. The latter had secured the rights to use the “Mi” brand in Africa and so went to court to get Xiaomi to stop sales.
However, mi-Fone is out of the game now, and the road should be clear for Xiaomi to proceed. Hopefully, the new Xiaomi Nigeria team is proof of that.
What phones to expect from Xiaomi Nigeria
This blog post by my friend, Habeeb, fingers the Xiaomi Mi 9 and Redmi Note 7 as two phones that will be part of the brand’s product launch on the 24th of April. Another post on Nairaland claims that Xiaomi Nigeria will launch the Redmi 5, Redmi 5 Plus, Redmi 5A, and Redmi 5A Prime. Those are all 2017 phones though.
I am sceptical about a brand looking to make a splash launching dated phones, so I am taking that Redmi 5 line-up with a pinch of salt. The new Redmi Go would be a more appropriate device to launch in Lagos alongside the Mi 9 and Redmi Note 7. All of them are recent, one is a premium device, the second a mid-ranger, and the third, budget.
April 24 is not far away any more, and the rumours and conjectures will be laid to rest. One can only hope that this time, Xiaomi’s push in Nigeria is sustained. There have been too many “entrances” that didn’t last in the past.
Gionee and Soda Mobile: going, going, going?
As Xiaomi Nigeria has fans drooling and exchanging hi-fives over their upcoming product launch in Lagos, some other phone brands seem to be closing shop.
Soda Mobile is new in the smartphone market and has been active in at least Egypt and Nigeria for several months now. The brand has some really solid value-for-money devices in the market.
But in the last three months, all has gone quiet at their end. The Soda Mobile website has been offline, and the brand’s twitter account, which used to be very active, has gone silent. These signs usually mean one thing: the death of a brand. But we can hope against hope.
The jury is still out on what exactly is the fate of Gionee Mobile. Despite the bankruptcy filing in 2018, the brand has put out a handful of new phones, including the Gionee S8s. But the main Gionee website is offline, though the Indian and Nigerian sites are still active.
Gionee India is alive and well
In mid-2018, Gionee sold its Indian operation to Karbonn Mobile (source), which may explain the source of the new Gionee phones being seen till now. They are likely manufactured by Gionee India, which is now 100% independent of the Chinese company that went bankrupt. That would also explain why the Gionee India website is still active.
If Gionee India is able to push its phones in Nigeria, then fans of the brand will continue to enjoy availability of new Gionee phones. If not…
However it plays out, the countdown to a product launch by Xiaomi Nigeria has genarated enough excitment among phone enthusiasts in the country, so much so that many may not pay attention to those brands that are quietly fading away.
Whether this 3rd coming of Xiaomi to Nigeria will be a proper, sustained effort or not remains to be seen. As I always say, time will tell.