A decade after Transsion first set its course for Africa, it became Africa’s Top Smartphone maker. The success of its leading phone brands Tecno, Itel, and Infinix has especially shown how a company with a strong regional focus, the right product mix, and strategic pricing can outperform bigger and more dominant firms.
Transsion’s ethos is rooted in a business strategy called “glocalization,” the creation of products that will sell universally but can be customized to specific markets or regions. In the case of smartphone manufacturing, Transsion has been lauded for paying attention to which features African consumers want in their devices.
How did they do it?
The African technology sector has seen tremendous change in the last decade, driven by infrastructure as well as social factors. Many countries are no longer technology barren lands, as steadfast urbanization and widening mobile network coverage laid the foundation for rapid smartphone adoption.
According to a Pew Research Center survey carried out in six African countries, education and age were far more important factors in determining smartphone ownership and internet usage than other prominent socioeconomic variables like income and gender. Consequently, young, educated, and urban residents have been the first wave of smartphone adopters
Most mobile-savvy Africans know that in order to avoid network fees and get the best connectivity in low-coverage areas, they need more than one SIM card — but most can’t afford two different phones. Transsion solved that problem by selling dual SIM card phones in 2008, even before Nokia, and thereby overtook Nokia’s sales in Africa by storm. Today, some Transsion phones even include a four-SIM feature.
One feature that set Tecno apart was its camera, which had been developed for better exposure on darker skin tones. Transsion invested heavily in R&D for this project, analyzing several million photos of dark-skinned Africans and surveying the exposure and colour temperature settings of local users. Ultimately, it synthesized these preferences into the design of its own camera.
In Ethiopia, Tecno became the first major phone brand in the country to offer a keyboard in Amharic, the country’s native script. This unlocked an entirely new customer base. Swahili and Hausa keyboards have also been added to Transsion devices.
Transsion’s performance around the world
After 10 years of expansion, Transsion’s brands held eight spots among the top 10 mobile phones sold in Africa. The bulk of Transsion’s business collectively comes from the three brands, which represent 38% of smartphones and 67% of feature phones shipped in Africa in Q3 2020, according to the Counterpoint Market Monitor service. Its cumulative sales volume has reached a landmark of more than 246 million Dual-SIM handsets. Transsion’s suite of brands led the African smartphone market in 2021 with a unit share of 47.4 percent, maintaining stable shipments into the region, according to the latest study by a global research firm released in Nairobi.
Transsion is the fourth largest in global phone manufacturing in terms of market share. They have a 10.6% overall market share with Africa and Pakistan as their biggest markets, with a 50% and 34.9% market share respectively, according to IDC 2020. Infinix, Transsion’s sub-brands also recorded a market share of 1.21% in Indonesia in 2021.
Transsion introduced an aftersales maintenance brand called Carlcare which has over 1,000 professional networks covering Africa, the Middle East, and East Asian countries. Transsion also owns a mobile internet company, Afmobi, which houses a quick search website www.af1234.com, a news portal site www.helloAf.com, an APP store Palmplay and an instant messaging tool Palmchat, which boasts over 140 million registered users.
Currently, TRANSSION has a global sales network covering 50+ countries and regions in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Latin America, including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, the UAE (Dubai), Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and others.
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