Weekly Review January 22-28

At the start of the New Year, many reports predicting tech trends for 2012 in Africa pointed to the increased adoption of smartphones. We agree — that is where the market is headed – but it’s important to remember that a high penetration of smartphones is still quite a few years away. Currently, most Africans own a basic Nokia “dumb” phone. This week, we looked at articles reporting on the adoption of smartphones and new mobile technologies. However, we kept in mind that this trend (no matter how explosive) is still in its early growth stages.

New research reveals how Africa Tweets” by Portland Communications
The first-ever comprehensive report on Twitter usage in Africa was released this week by the independent research firm, Portland Communications. The study shows that South Africa has the most Twitter users, followed by Kenya, then Nigeria. To conduct the study, Portland Communications analyzed three months of geo-tagged tweets, which unfortunately eliminates Twitter users who tweet by sending an SMS. Portland’s analysis showed that 57% of tweets they surveyed came from mobile devices, mainly BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android. Had they been able to include SMS messages the numbers of people accessing Twitter from their mobile would be much higher. We’d like to compare how many users are tweeting via SMS in Africa with the results from Portland Communications.  Does anyone beside Twitter have their hands on that data?

Top 6 Deloitte telecommunications predictions for 2012” on IT News Africa
Deloitte believes consumer technology demand will be led by growth in emerging markets. In particular, emerging markets will drive global demand for tablets and smartphones in 2012. Tablets and smartphones come in different sizes, at different price points, with a range of processing power and several unique operating systems. The diversified products drive adoption from a wide demographic – particularly in emerging markets where falling price points are meeting pent up demand from populations who could never afford a computer.

Some Popular Android Devices in the African Market” by Rebecca Jones on Afrinnovator
As many 2012 techies predicted, smartphone adoption is a key trend to watch in Africa. Rebecca Jones reports on the most popular smartphones in the market right now. Describing Google’s Android OS as “mighty,” the $80 Huawei IDEOS is by far the most popular smartphone on the market, selling about 60,000 within the first five months of release and about 400,000 within the first year. We’d hazard a guess that many were unlocked and sold through informal markets.

Technology’s new chance to make a difference in 2012” by Ken Banks on Poverty Matters Blog on The Guardian
Despite our focus on smartphones and other mobile technologies in this Weekly Review, we took each news headline with a grain of salt. Non-smartphones still make up the majority of the mobile phone market in Africa and despite the ultra low costing Androids on the market, $80 is still unaffordable for most Africans. Ken Banks is reluctant to make predictions, but suggests that the smartphone will be ubiquitous in Africa only when it drops over 50% in price.

Images via Portland Communications and The Next Web