LG Electronics Thursday introduced a high-end smart phone targeting Kenya’s growing middle class in a bid to get a foothold in a market segment dominated by iPhone and Blackberry brands.
The phone, LG Optimus 3D, is said to be the first handset capable of capturing and viewing images in 3D. It will cost Sh65,000, marking entry of the Korean firm in Kenya’s high-end market with a product it launched on the global scene in June.
Presently, the lucrative but small high-end smartphone market is dominated by Apple through the iPhone, Samsung with the Galaxy phone, and Research in Motion’s Blackberry.
Mr Kamau Ngure, the mobile section sales manager at LG, said the company was diversifying business to include the high-end segment, adding that the market often upgrades handsets in line with global launches.
The firm had initially opted to target the market with cheaper version of smart phones retailing at between Sh20,000 and Sh40,000.
“The price of the handset is high, but we are targeting users who are mainly keen on the functionality of their phones and who are currently being served by our rivals,” said Mr Ngure. Rival phones like iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S11, Sonny Ericsson’s Xperia and Blackberry Storm (2) retail at Sh75,000, Sh61,000, Sh56,000 and Sh57,000 respectively. On the other hand, firms such as Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung are racing for control of the mid-segment of the market served by entry level smart phones. The phones retail between Sh8,000 and Sh30,000.
Lucrative data market
Mobile telephony firms looking to capture the lucrative data market are aiding in penetration of smartphones by offering subsidies on the handsets.
The data market has become a key profit driver for the operators who are facing lower margins in the voice business where prices have nearly halved since last August. Partnership with mobile phone operators is offering handset makers a key distribution channel. Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung are some of the firms that have increased their activities in the smart phone market.
On Thursday, Bharti Airtel inked a two-year sales deal with Samsung that will allow the mobile operator to sell smart phones, mass-market mobile handsets, and tablet computers exclusively in 17 African countries for the first six months after their launch.
Telkom Kenya has also acquired exclusive rights from Apple to market its handsets in the market while Chinese Huawei is riding on Safaricom’s distribution network to push its products.