OPEN SOURCE AND THE MOBILE PHONE

Apart from the commission reports and the endless downfall of our stock markets nothing else makes news as is related to the mobile telephony world. In fact listening or watching television these days feels like being in the reception halls of these mobile companies. Its not bad but waking up to a Safaricom tune and the care stereo on Zain you feel like zungu zungu with orange Kenya.

 

Still mobile telephony is making more news and positive ones more than any other sector. Our region will be growing at 30% percent over the next four years. We still have to introduce a greater majority of people to the internet (we just have over 2.0million in Kenya) Nairobi has a population of over 3 million folks.

 

More users will be using their phones on other now important products like M-pesa and sokotele, Data services especially in baking and this will definitely make it easier to introduce the other value additions.

 

What is encouraging is the fast development of the industry in the west. With Symbian becoming bedfellows with open source and the emergence of Google Android, T-Mobile intro of G1 things may be getting better for third world countries. Oh did I mention RIM and its blackberry app store….

 

What this means is simple. When it becomes easier and cheaper to acquire software, risk associated by limited information will dramatically drop. As a result the end user will just have to download and application and configure it to his or her own tastes. Users of open source are increasingly making it cheaper for African operators to come up with products that have dramatic impacts on the society.

 

Undoubtedly more people are using the mobile money transfers for their businesses; probably what is needed is for African governments to use mobile telephony to deliver some of its services.

 

For example I have visited many of our governments websites they are usually very well done. Unfortunately everyone knows that you can not conduct a business transaction with just a brochure.  

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TALK IS CHEAP.. KEEP TALKING

Conventional wisdom would have told you that, the entry of two more mobile phone companies was bound to bring a season of price wars.

This are just the calm before the storm why Econet is on its way and I do not believe that they would settle to just watching as Safaricom, Zain and Orange have field day.

So how will this play out.

 

Let’s begin with safaricom. I said and will keep to it that Safcom while it’s the most profitable company in the region can not afford to charge below 8 shillings. Oh you think buying that 1,000 shilling card says you are on a cheap tariff….well look at it this way, the more you spend talking on your safaricom the more the boys in green rake in money. On average with our peculiar calling habits you are likely to 1 minute 20 seconds on a call. That is after saying where and what you are doing and why. So take the average a bamba 20 will last the next call so you are bound to probably spend between 120 to 170. The idea is to increase the average use per person.

Therefore most guys will be paying 7 to 8 bob per minute within safaricom network.

The idea is good.

 

Orange is the trending cautiously, the 1 bob intro to the network is very nice but there for two months. The parent company has been doing well and orange Kenya will be treated as the baby. As such while results will be expected money will be pumped into the Kenyan network.

The company has earmarked about Kenya shilling 6 billion which is massive. I do expect them to maintain the 7 bob tariff within network and the 14 bob across networks. This will be their ‘get a feel of the Kenyan market’ then act. Probable change of the tariff is mid April 2009.

 

As for econet the Indian share holders are going to go crazy with their operations in Kenya. Grapevine still tells me they will have a 2 bob tariff. We will wait and see. They are going to share majority of the base stations that are currently build and build very few. This will free a lot of their money for their products. They will market hard very hard.

 

As for Zain they are flushed with oil money, so they will keep at it till they get their consumer base up. Vuka has been working in fact the joke on face book is that Michael Joseph has vukad.       

The 8 bob while is heavily being subsidised will eventually have a cross over effect sooner rather than later.

 

To all folks the adage that talk is cheap. It’s becoming a reality. Keep talking  

THE NOKIA TOUCH SCREEN

 

When apple came up with the Iphone the touch screen ‘thingy’ was the rave. I call it ‘thingy’ since just this morning while buying some airtime at a phone outlet, I over heard an animated conversation between a well mannered sales lady and a very eager teenage boy who was either I think trying to get a date and impress the lady with his gadgetology  or do both.

Holding his current phone he explained to the lady what kind and why his next phone should be.

‘I like a phone that has the touch thingy’ said the boy

‘You mean touch screen facility?’ asked the lady

‘Yeah that ..one so what do you have?’ boy

‘We have the LG Viewty, Samsung F480…….

At this point I let them go on. Any way Nokia has joined the list of touch screen devices.

 

 

The Nokia 5800 Xpress comes with high resolution resistive touch screen with stylus input and  tactile feedback.

The device has a 3.2 mega pixel camera with 35 hours of music on a multi format player.

 

The 5800 is available in three versions: the European HSDPA, North American HSDPA and the GSM only.

The first shipment of the device will be in this quarter. Expect the black, blue and red packed in the boxes.

 

The phone has all the requirements associated with any device from Helsinki. In-fact this is the forth major overhaul of what has come to be known as the tube in the smart phone platform.

 

The phone runs on the fifth edition of S60 and will be on 3.5G

 

I can not say much about it since like you am shopping for one. As for the damage this phone will set you back about 28k

 

OFF 1 BOB AND TV MOBILE

There is a meltdown currently taking place in the world financial centres. Whereas, we are yet to experience a direct hit of this unfortunate state of affairs, we seem to be experiencing another kind of meltdown or if you put it in main street lingo a very nice price crush.

 

The cost of ICT products in Nairobi are at an all time low. You can walk into an electronics shop and get a new PC for just 14k ($195) this is cloned desktop. Besides this on the high tech street of Luthuli Avenue in downtown Nairobi you are likely to get a Nokio N95 that has touch screen (this is not the Nokia N95).

 

This avenue provides any ICT firm a relatively cheap research station where one can find out the latest trends on who is buying, why they buy and what is asked more.

 

For example the TV mobile phone from China are becoming a big hit especially for rural folk. Why? Luthuli is just adjacent to one of the busiest bus stops in East Africa.

Invariably any Kamau, Otieno and Kip who land on this street is bombarded with a galore of fancy looking phones from China which is becoming very popular with our folks.

 

Asking the shop keepers the give the same answer; value addition. And for most their value placement is quite interesting.

Off course the phone must have the basics and mobile money transfer is not an option. But the luxury of watching TV especially sports events and the Obama TV is quite appealing. Their battery life is relatively good for the said task.

 

With our peculiar calling habits which make most of us call at the same time at 5 pm. Tom Dick and Harry can be seen glaring at their little screens with occasional interruptions of a phone call. Asking the one question that all Kenyans ask.

Where are you?

 

Well if you are finding it expensive to ask your beloved this question then buy an Orange Kenya line.

The company recently unveiled a 1 bob introductory offer. You can call within the network for a shilling.

 

And it seems the only problem now is the cost is power. But Kibakiman has come to our aid and phones will be fully charged literally.

November 5th if quite far and Kenyan will follow with their TV phones thanks to the Chinese.

 

Problem now is whether I should call on 1 shilling or stay off-peak with Saasa Tariff or maybe just Vuka with Zain. As I ponder this let me check if soccer is on Now

 

KARIBU NoRA

Every weekend in the newspapers of Kenya, a barrage of mobile telephony products are laid out. From ring tones to wall paper the list goes on and on. But if you think that this is what makes the array of mobile telephony products then you will be in for a pleasant surprise.

 

About a year ago I met a young man just about to join university; Ali who looks like any Joe in your neighbourhood is wiz kid when it comes to the convergence of technology.

Having being surfing the net for ideas Ali thought of using the mobile device as security link to their family car.

 

While this technology has been used in different western countries, Ali who at the time had a Nokia 1100 sought to use the short message service function and he ultimately was able to control their family car movement with his entry device phone.

 

This is just part of the many this that people in Kenya is doing with their phones.

The Eastlands area of Nairobi is particularly innovative when it comes to mobile solutions.

 

Take the payment of services and products offered on the net. Since Kenya’s laws do not allow for such transactions guys have turned their eye on to the MPesa service from Safaricom.

You order a service or product from me, pay by Mpesa and you get your purchase.

So it’s great that Nokia has seen the value of opening a research centre for Africa. The continent has another seven years of solid growth of about 30% per year.

 

More and more African governments and NGO’s are using these devices to provide services and information. Depending on what Nokia and other mobile device makers will see as their core value NoRA represent a wonderful opportunity to know who the customers of Africa are.

 

One encouraging thing about NoRA’s focus is the youth and team leader Jussi Impio says“Our focus is on the youth who make up the larger populace of this continent. Our research work will enable us to design products and services that are relevant and add value to their lives”

 

In Kenya the NoRA is already studying the dynamics of the informal music industry in the urban slum estate of Huruma, Nairobi.

 

The selection of partners is also well done since those selected have prior knowledge of how communities behave.  

 

For me this is just the first of many, the African consumer is evolving very fast and in many cases becoming more of technology leaders than tech-stylists.

 

Oh by the way NoRA is Nokia Research Africa