Kenya: For Some Phone Users, their handset brand is only a Name

Digital Content

Competition in the mobile phone handset market is heating up with non-branded phones slowly gaining acceptance in the Kenyan telecoms industry. Already established brands are feeling the heat prompting their latest intensive advertising campaigns.

Due to the increasing presence of phones from Chinese manufacturers in the market, multinational companies are spending a lot of time developing strategies to counter the effect of these cheaper cell phones whose affordability is their main attraction.
Others have even resorted to giving discounts and offers on all their phone models in order to try and stem competition.

Rapid Communications Chief Executive Officer Anwar Hussein said in the current market, there is a lot of pressure for manufacturers to provide cheap but quality handsets. "We have a generation of youth that is after affordability and most of them these days want to write more SMSs than to call- hence the growing need for different keypads. It is the world of changing trends," said Hussein.

He says even though the mobile phone industry is one of the fastest growing and booming, one obstacle is the amount charged to get a good quality mobile phone.
Rapid Communications is expected to launch its i-Touch mobile phones in the Kenyan market next month signalling another battle for consumers.

i-Touch has already been launched in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, working with Etisilat, Zain and MTN. "We want to achieve the number one status in the non-brand mobile phone segment, as we know that there are already established brands such as Nokia, Samsung and LG in the Kenyan market," he said.

He says that once they are able to build a comfort zone in the non-brand market, thereafter they will look at building a brand, although Hussein is aware that it won't be easy to compete with major firms because they already have a big market share.

"But go to Tom Mboya and neighbouring streets, you will find that most of those shops stock non-branded devices, and many Kenyans are slowly accepting them," he said.

The i-Touch will have features such as touch screen, multiple speakers, speakerphone, Bluetooth, music player and expandable memory at a price almost a quarter of the mainstream brands.