VENTURES AFRICA – June 2012 has been full of different high powered tech events. We’ve had Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference [WWDC 2012] where iOS 6 and other products were unveiled, Microsoft’s event where Surface tablet was announced and now Google’s I/O.
These events have kept technology enthusiasts, developers and investors all glued. Many development experts are watching these events as they shape the decisions they are making about tomorrow.
Writing about the advantage of low cost tablets in Africa, I wrote on oTeKbits that it is going to change the way we live and learn. An excerpt; Some of the benefits that are coming from the tablet can be seen in e-commerce, entertainment, games, news publishing, education, book publishing and more.
When you take a look at it, you will see that there are so many jobs and businesses that have leveraged on the tablet revolution and created new forms of business. The tablet has created an ecosystem of businesses that now exist around it.
A South African company is working on a Tablet, both Wi-Fi only and the one that has Wi-Fi plus 3G. Nigeria’s Saheed Adepoju is working on Inye 2 tablet.
There’s also the Vantium V1 Tablet by another Nigerian company, Websoft marshalled by John Dunmoye and Omoniyi Ewete.
With Google coming into the picture with the Google Nexus 7, I am wondering how the playing field will be for the incumbents, in this case those who are making tablets locally in Africa. The Cost of Locally Manufactured tablets
Vantium is selling its Tablet PC at $499 [N80,000], the Enciphe’s Inye will retail between $300 to $400 [N48,800 – N65,000], while that from Wise
Touch in South Africa is going for $175/ N28,500 (Wi-Fi only), and the 3G capable one is going for $291/N47,500. Can you see the difference it prices? Off course the offering and specifications of the tablets vary.
Google Nexus 7
Google has presence in many African countries now, including Nigeria. They are already marketing many of their products here actively. The likes of Google plus, Google App for business and Google app for education are already being marketed here.
Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, the 8Gb edition, is retailing for just $199 [N32, 400]. It is however only Wi-Fi enabled. You cannot use GSM Sim on it and the storage is not expandable. There’s another one that is 16GB, it is retailing for $249 [N40, 500]. The 16 GB is also only Wi-Fi enabled too and the storage is not expandable.
When you compare the price of the recently released Google Nexus 7 with the low cost Androids already being offered by the local manufacturers, you will see that Google is about to come and eat their meal.
Why are we not seeing the local Tablets around us?
Try to Google any of the locally made tablets I have mentioned and you will only see articles about them as if the products are spiritual or ghost. If they have these products why do we not have reviews by people who have used them online?
There is a challenge I have noticed. Many of the folks creating these tablets in Africa do not have the kinds of finance and capacity that the likes of Google and Amazon have.
In the real sense of it, they simply design and have in manufactured outside of the continent just the way Apple makes its smartphones and tablets outside of America.
Only people in America, UK, Canada and Australia can pre-order the Nexus 7 for now and have the tablet delivered to them by mid-July, next month.
Soon enough we are going to have it here in Nigeria and Africa. When we do, will there be hope for the indigenous tablet makers? Especially since many of them do not have the financial capacity to market and to make available the required quantity to satisfy the market.
Wi-Fi only Tablet is not made for Africa
This may be one of the means in which the locally made tablet makers can start positioning themselves in the minds of the people. Wi-Fi access is not ubiquitous in Nigeria and many parts of Africa.
Most of the people going around with tablets are using the edition that supports 3G connection. Most Wi-Fi access is only possible when you are in the office [By the way many offices still use internet dongles].
There are also those of us that have Wi-Fi installed at home or have a portable Wi-Fi dongle that we use. The majority of the people depend on mobile internet on their phone using their SIM card.
Is Google going to ensure that the one they eventually ship to Africa has 3G? Will it also be priced as cheap as $199? I don’t know their plans. It will be good for those who are making tablets locally to look at how to tap into this opportunity and ship their low cost tablets that have 3G capability. To compete on that basis alone won’t be enough. That can easily be rivalled by Google or Samsung.
I want to see situations where the edge that the locally developed tablets would be having will be in the kinds of contents that are bundled with their tablet and how localised they are.
The battle line that Google has drawn is not only against Apple and Amazon, but also against those making tablets locally. Who wins eventually?