While smartphone purchases have dropped, Transsion Holding, which owns TECNO, Infinix and itel, continues to record notable growth in Africa and other emerging markets. However, how does the competition fare?
People are not buying phones as much as they used to, primarily because the devices have become expensive lately. This development is due to several reasons, such as strained supply chains, harsh dollar exchange rates, and overall inflation. It can also be argued that modern smartphones have become so much better that users do not see the need to replace them after a year or two, meaning they hold onto them for much longer. Where, in the past, users would purchase a new device due to their current phone developing an issue like faulty software, poor battery life, or failing hardware, modern phones are more durable, eliminating the need for frequent replacement.
Research firm Canalysis has released some data showing the market share of different phone brands worldwide. The numbers paint an interesting picture of the African market, where it remains obvious that people love purchasing affordable phones. Not many brands are known to have nailed the budget segment other than Chinese manufacturers, particularly Transsion Holdings. Transsion is known for its affordable devices manufactured by offshoots such as TECNO, Infinix, itel, Oraimo (accessories), and Syinix (TVs).
Specifically, Transsion topped Africa’s smartphone market share for Q1 at 48%. While it slumped in annual growth rate by 13%, it still showcases its strong presence in the continent. Samsung then followed Transsion at 30%. Positions three, four, and five were occupied by three Chinese brands: Xiaomi at 6%, OPPO at 4%, and realme at 3%. Like Transsion, all the brands recorded a drop in annual growth, save for realme, which jumped by 11 points.
In countries such as Morocco and Algeria, Samsung took the lead in market share at 11% for both. Transsion picked the second position in Morocco at 19%, followed by Xiaomi, OPPO and realme. Only Xiaomi showed a positive annual jump at 16%. realme picked the second position in Algeria at 31%, followed by Xiaomi at 18%. The first and second runners-up recorded positive annual growth at a massive +412% for realme, and +40% for Morocco. Transsion and Apple closed the top five chart at 13% and 1%, respectively. It should also be noted that this is the first time Apple has featured in these rankings, considering it hardly sells its devices in Africa, save for many markets. Apple devices are also known for their high price and are a reserve for very few people who can afford them.
“We continue to record increased popularity of smartphones under these different segments with the entry-level segment, especially from a youthful customer base, in these three countries. We are very proud of such a performance that reflects on our resolve to meet dynamic needs of our customers even in difficult times, with innovative solutions and budget-friendly devices,” notes realme Kenya PR & Marketing Manager Mildred Agoya.
Transsion, the star of these statistics, has since launched the Camon 20 series of devices. For instance, the TECNO Camon 20 Premium costs $400 or more. Therefore, it can be argued that these devices are no longer affordable, although it makes sense why TECNO is doing this. For a long time, it has been known as the ‘cheap’ brand. To this end, it wants to dissociate itself from such assumptions and is actually doing the work to prove that. For example, TECNO has a $1000 phone, the Phantom V Fold. It is a quality device that bends like the Samsung Fold line of smartphones. It also has plans to launch a flipping device, which will be named the Phantom V Flip.
The point here is that Transsion, especially TECNO, may soon transition to a premium brand similar to Samsung. Will the market accommodate its ambitions? Probably, but that will only remain to be seen. The likes of Samsung, for instance, have experienced what an expensive handset can do to market share. The current A series by the South Korean phone maker, including the Galaxy A54, are prohibitively expensive. This is the same mistake the manufacturer made with the now-discontinued J-series back in the day, but the market may self-correct in the coming days.
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