Posted by: mafrican | February 24, 2010

Cell phones with a “sell by” date

Recently Vodafone announced it’s new cell phone (mobile phone for any Europeans out there) for the developing world (or for “emerging markets”, which seems to be the more politically-correct terminology nowadays).  I guess the road to hell is paved with good intentions…  It shows the total lack of understanding of what’s important in Africa and the lack of research into what your “typical” poor African really wants.  By announcing this low cost, low function device, (along with huge fanfare and back-patting) it ignores the aspirations of millions of Africans.  Just because people are poor and are currently using very basic phones, this does not mean they want more of the same. 

As my colleague so aptly put it – “Obviously poor people are assumed to have no taste.”

My prediction is that the phone will not take Africa by storm.  Most people will look at cheaper feature phones (there’s a reason why the Samsung E250 is doing so well in Africa!) and the main competition will come from second-hand feature and smartphones.

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