I bet we all didn’t see this coming!

According to the latest Market Monitor report from a global industry analysis firm headquartered in Asia, Counterpoint Research, iTel became the number one phone brand in Africa surpassing Samsung for the first time in history. iTel mobile achieved this feat when it captured 20% share of the total mobile phone shipments for Q3 2016.

However, in some other related news, the Africa mobile handset market grew by 6% YoY. This market growth in the Africa smartphone market canbe largely attributed to rise in demand for feature phones in the continent which saw a surprising growth of 14% YoY. While when most other global phone markets are experiencing a galactic increase in demand for smartphones, I still find it hard to fathom why there was a surge in the demand for feature phones in Africa as a whole.

Probably the weak and deteriorating economic condition of some African countries like Nigeria can be stated to be the reason for the upsurge in the need for feature phones. Still on iTel, looking at the statistics in the image below, not only did the smartphone company become the number one selling mobile phone brand in Africa, it also remained the number one feature phone player in the African market.

Counterpoint Research Analyst Karn Chauhan, added, “As a result of weaker economic climate in some key countries, feature phone sales have made a comeback growing 14% annually becoming one of the fastest growing feature phone market globally as first time mobile phone users continue to rise. Transsion Holdings’ low-cost brand iTel became the number one brand in Africa surpassing Samsung for the first time capturing 20% share of the total mobile phone shipments. Transsion’s key brand Tecno captured 14% share in overall mobile phones whereas its smartphone only brand Infinix moved into top five smartphone rankings capturing 3% of the smartphone sub-segment. Overall Transsion is the biggest mobile phone supplier in Africa with all its brand combined capturing a third of the mobile phone market.

It will be interesting to see if “Nokia branded” phones make a comeback via HMD Global and Foxconn partnership, as Africa will be one of the key markets for HMD Global in near to mid-term.”

Anothet Counterpoint Research Analyst, Shobhit Srivastava also added that, “While feature phone segment grew annually, smartphone segment saw a modest 2% growth annually as the biggest smartphone market in Africa, Nigeria, saw smartphone demand shrink 19% annually due to the high inflationary climate caused by significant currency devaluation since June of this year. The weaker demand in Nigeria market was somewhat offset by stronger growth across other smaller markets such as Kenya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, South Africa and many other smaller African countries.

Samsung is still the market leader in smartphone capturing 34% share but down from 43% share as the overall volumes declined 20% annually due to the rise of Huawei, Infinix, Lenovo and long tail Chinese brands. It will be also be critical to see if Tecno can convert its existing feature phone user base to smartphones in next few years as competition from the mature smartphone brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE, Oppo becomes intense.”

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  1. Itel has become a household name. Every one I have seen so far is having the phone. But I don’t know how good the phones are.

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