African phone pioneer sidesteps Samsung, Nokia and Huawei

first_img African mobile device pioneer Mi-Fone opens up on strategy AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to MoreAddThisMore 07 NOV 2014 Tags Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including… Read more LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 AFRICA: Mi-Fone, billed as being Africa’s first devices brand, has survived – and thrived – by being more prepared to customise its brand than larger rivals says Alpesh Patel, the man behind the brand.“We are not in a position to keep up with the likes of Samsung, Nokia and Huawei so we have been very innovative. We don’t have any ego. The way we got into some of the carriers was by customisation. We enabled them to promote their own brands,” Patel (pictured) told attendees.Patel is group CEO, Mi-Group International, the company behind Mi-Fone, which was set up in 2008. He has a 20 year background in the handset business.“We set up in the middle of a recession. We are not founded by private equity or venture capital. It’s been a really tough journey and six years later we are surviving against all the odds. We are trading into 12 countries and established as the first African devices brand.”Like many outsiders trying to break into the handsets business, Patel found the best way was to be more flexible than bigger rivals.“We knew Motorola needed a 100,000 order before they would put anyone’s name on their phone. We used that to our advantage,” he explained about one deal Mi-Fone struck.Another example was the Obama phone, released on the day Barack Obama became US President. “We figured if you could put his face on a cup or T-shirt, you could put it on a phone.” The company sold 8,000 phones in five days in western Kenya.But being a pioneer is not easy. “The biggest challenge is the mindset of the African consumer today. I think they respect international brands more than homegrown ones. Also, I have lots of challenges with operators because they are big guys and only want to buy from other big guys”. Author Devices Previous ArticleOfcom preparing ground for new UK 4G auctionNext ArticleEtisalat, CellC feel the strain of data privacy Related Richard Handford Xiaomi hit by more growing pains Home African phone pioneer sidesteps Samsung, Nokia and Huawei Mi-FoneMi-Group Internationallast_img

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