John Sculley’s Mobile Phone Company Obi Worldphone Quietly Exits the Kenyan Market

The Kenyan mobile market proved to be too hard and competitive for the company

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In mid-March last year, former Apple CEO John Sculley jetted into the country to officially launch the operations of his then new company, Obi Mobiles, in Kenya. Over a year later, other than the presence of old stock that is still stuck on the shelves of some retailers and old branding that begs for a fresh coat of paint, there’s no Obi Mobiles anymore.

What happened?

We have since learned that Obi Mobiles started wrapping up when the head of its Kenyan operations left late last year. The said head has never been replaced and the company’s social media accounts for some regions including East Africa have been inactive. They, instead, advise users to follow the global Obi Worldphones account. We could’ve easily overlooked this since Obi Mobiles rebranded last year and became Obi Worldphone but the relative silence from the company on the matter says otherwise. Kenya does not even appear on the company’s global store locator anymore.

When Obi started its Kenyan operations last year, it was upbeat that it would be able to capture the market’s attention. With a promise to bring to the market new devices every 6 months, the company was confident of securing at least 5% market share in Kenya with sales of its entry-level and lower mid-range smartphones as well as assorted feature phones. Unfortunately, thanks to the competitive nature of the Kenyan mobile market, that was never to be. It was just a dream.

Obi was expected to unveil its two new smartphones from last year, the SF1 and the SJ1, in the Kenyan market before the year ended. 2016 came and the company unveiled yet another smartphone, the MV1, a Cyanogen-OS-powered device. This, too, has been a no-show here despite the company’s continued focus on other emerging smartphone markets.

According to our sources, Obi Worldphone exited the Kenyan market after sales of its devices failed to pick up. This has been cited as the reason why the company did not bother introducing any new models since the start of the second half of 2015.

We have reached out to Obi Worldphone for a comment on the matter and will update this article if and when we hear back from them.

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