Airtel taps Samsung Galaxy S4 for data growth, will Africa buy costly phones

Baburajan’s Telecom Blog for Africa: How many Africans can afford to buy costly smartphone Samsung Galaxy S4?

One million? Less than 1 lakh? There are no estimates.

Airtel says its African customers are waiting for Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones. Remember Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones in India will be priced at around Rs 40,000 to Rs 45,000 ($800 plus) when the company launches on Friday.

Airtel’s press release says beginning early May, African consumers will have the opportunity to buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones in all Airtel outlets across the African continent. Wow!

Airtel customers will not only get the chance to get their hands on the most sought-after mobile device of the year, but they will also get 3 months data to go with it. The offer is available while stocks last.

Is Africa becoming the hot destination for high end smartphones? Not really.

Analyst firms are not pointing towards Africa.

In fact, ABI Research forecasts about the emergence of low cost smartphones in emerging telecom markets.

In many parts of the world, smartphone shipments account for a larger percentage of mobile handset shipments than feature phones and low-cost handsets.

Shipments of sub-US$250 low-cost smartphones will grow from 259 million in 2013 to 788 million in 2018. Mid (sub-$400) and high ($400+) cost smartphone shipments are expected to grow from 635 million to 925 million over the same period.

The growth of smartphones in pre-paid and emerging markets will be the primary driver of low-cost smartphone growth.

Developed and subsidized markets are also finding that low-cost smartphones can capture the remaining consumers that have yet to convert to a smartphone while minimizing the margin impacts stemming from subsidizing high-cost smartphones.

Andre Beyers, chief marketing officer of Airtel Africa, says the company has responded to customers’ demands.

That means the new smartphone, which received 10 million order booking in 2 weeks, will become a hot seller. The mobile industry will wait till Samsung’s next quarterly result or report from IDC or some other research firm.

Airtel estimates that the Samsung Galaxy S4, a ground-breaking phone, will create demand for data growth.

Thanks to its 3.75G network, there is demand for smartphones.

“From a business perspective, smart phone penetration is linked to strong data growth. This is demonstrated through internal data which shows that Samsung smartphones generate twenty times more data than feature phones,” Beyers added.


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