Mi-fone, the mass market brand for Africa


Africa is a growth market in mobile. There is so much potential, so many gaps to be filled. This is due to the fact that technology changes so fast, the developed world had implemented technologies that are slower to shift from as opposed to new markets of Africa. Such technologies are mobile, the developed countries have fixed line telephony, computers and internet access from long ago, due to advancement in general infrastructure.

Africa is at an advantage due to that, resulting to a very high growth in mobile and mobile technologies which seek to deliver all these, telephony, internet and computing together. Mi-Fone seeks to fit in there, and so far is seeing quite good levels of success. African mobile phones adoption is mainly in the feature phones, the sub $100 devices. The mass market. The entrepreneur behind Mi-fone Mr Alpesh Patel believes there is a huge gap available to be filled here, and has strived towards it.

Mi-fone was founded in April 2008 during those days when Obama was in almost everyone’s mouths, and they started with the Mi-Obama phone which was on sale in Kenya. This was where the brand got definition, resulting in over 1.3 million devices sold by the company in a range of phones, mainly feature phones. Mi-fone generated $18 million in revenues from 2008, has a presence in 12 African countries and 120 retail points. That is a marker of success right there.

Mi-fone sales are targeted to the budget spender, the sub $50 for feature phones. There’s several of these. Alpesh notes that Mi-fone provides Chinese prices and quality added on the package. Insisting that Mi-fone products sell even with Mobile carriers, these are not known to deal in sub-standard products, affirming the quality of Mi-fone devices.

Mi-fone also prides itself with the cheapest Android phone in the market, with two in this category, the Mi-fone A100 which is a dual sim phone and also Mi-fone A300, a single sim android phone. Both are full touch 3.2 inch screen devices. Mi-fone A100 was launched in a colourful event at the new One degree South Hotel in Westlands to a very jovial crowd. I mist say the Mi-fone team are very much in command of their business, the close touch to the devices and are very much aware of the market needs. This is visible in the devices sales and also the feedback they gave the media during question time. Mi-fone is also engaging developers and is in constant communication with iHub requesting developers to suggest anything they would deem worthwhile in the growth of the mutual ecosystem. Mi-fone also has an application store called Mi-Apps portal, also launched at the event. The apps portal currently has music as the first downloadable item, but will also have hordes of apps pretty much soon.

Oh, and before I forget, Mi-fone was the first gadget maker to build a Facebook phone with a one key-press access to facebook, and also the first one to have an exclusive partnership to embed Opera mini to core files off the box. Pretty?