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2019: The Age of Fashion Bloggers Reviewing Smartphones

by Saruni Maina

Dear Techies, we are under siege but it’s not their fault. Clients want audiences and that’s what they got. Before this piece turns into a poem, let’s first start by outlining that I am in no way attacking fashion bloggers but this is a call to action to my fellow techies.

A few years ago (actually, months, years is a stretch), we were the go-to tech guys. Well established brands loved to be associated with us, from the likes of Samsung, Huawei to TECNO and Infinix, that’s actually what made our blogs prosper.

Yes, these brands still want to work with a few of us but we’re not their priority anymore. Well-established blogs like Android Kenya, Techweez, Tech-ish, TechArena, TechTrends and even the recently launched Gadgets Africa are all in trouble.

Fashion Bloggers to Smartphone Reviewers

A good example is the ever-growing number of celebrities you see flock smartphone launches now, not because they are interested in the product but because they are paid to be there and “influence” the said gadget to the masses. Unfortunately for the celebrities, they are also under siege from a group of people known as fashion bloggers.

They are the talk of the town now, they actually have real audiences willing to put in money where they are told to. It’s not like we don’t have influence but theirs is unmatched, at least to the eyes of the client. So why are these fashion bloggers attracting tech companies?

It’s all about the content. The fact that, for example, Maxine Wabosha, would attract Huawei to work with her as an influencer for their Y7 Prime (2019) smartphone is not only because she has a good following on Instagram and YouTube but because, unlike us, she will not geek-out and focus on the specifications mumble jumble but instead show her followers what exactly it is like to live with the device with specific focus on the device’s selling point – which is more often than not, the camera and battery life.

“So why are these fashion bloggers attracting tech companies? It’s all about the content”

Don’t get me wrong, specifications are important but how important are they to the masses? What we miss on is aligning these specifications to actual day-to-day usage, showing the audience why they need a certain device in their life.

A perfect example is a tweet by one of Joy Kendi’s fans who responded to a number of photos that the fashion icon had taken on the Samsung Galaxy Note9:

The truth is simple, our content has become boring. We’re always talking about the same things from one device to another, putting them through the same tests, which is good and has worked until now but stepping forward, something’s got to give.

Our subscriber numbers will not grow to match those of fashion bloggers if we don’t change our methods. We need to look past the processor speed, Android version and Megapixel.

Even those we can say have made it in our line of work are changing tact – there’s better videography, less spec-talk and more connection with the audience. Don’t give up yet, there’s still hope for us. The fact that clients still expect these same fashion bloggers to talk “professionally” about topics they probably have zero interest in is a good sign that there’s still space for us and the knowledge that we carry in our big heads.

Saruni Maina is a tech blogger with years on experience writing, creating video content and tweeting about his gadgets. He is also the founding editor of Gadgets Africa, Kenya’s newest Tech Blog.


  1. As a techie, how many times have you lost your audience the moment you said ‘quad-core’ or something even less intimidating such as ‘ROM’? This is 2019, smartphones have been around for the better part of 2 decades. The ‘smartness’ has been demystified, with even a 60-year-old effortlessly switching between apps while sporting the latest wireless headphones.

    I would assume 80% plus of smartphone users are non-techies. I believe most of us techies are stuck in the early 2000s where we were the answer to everything. Since iPhone was unveiled in 2007, form trumped function. This is due to the fact most, if not all phones included similar features that can be found on even the cheapest Chinese knock-offs.

    Phones have become fashion statements. Who cares whether the shoe is real leather or not, as long as it is designer? The same applies to phones, where, people want to be seen with the latest iteration (techie term). You must remember we are in the Instagram era, as such, we don’t find it absurd taking a photo of your reflection just so that the phone make will be visible.
    Phone manufacturers have realized this marketing potential – yes, they have teams of marketing guys without a clue as to what’s in the phone as much as how to sell it. Buyers want to hear slogans such as ‘Rethink what a phone can do’ and ‘We are in the business of staying out of yours’, to name a few.
    It is nigh impossible to capture a large market mentioning ‘Snapdragon’ or ‘Mali’.

    Fashionistas will always have more followers and sell more phones than techies since they address the market needs and adapt to stay relevant. For us techies, obsession with jargon and unneccesary detail is our downfall.

  2. This is an interesting observation. It’s however, a bit sensentional.

    Let me weigh my thoughts on this. When introducing a new product to a market you target spefic buyers at specific times.

    For instance, in the case of let’s say the Y7 Prime 2019, there are the buyers who will pre-order the phone and those who will wait and buy it at the tail end of the 2019.

    In the product cycle, you have the innovators. These are the guys who breath tech and will be the first to pre-order phones.

    They are the guys who will buy a smartphone because they know about its technical offerings. They care less about the product or the brand and more about the tech. The kind that buy from onePlus even though they can easily afford an iPhone XR.

    If the techies love the product. They sneeze this to the rest in the cycle. So in this case while, you need tech reviewers to start the conversation, once they pull the techies in, the tech bloggers pass the baton to the lifestyle bloggers to influence the early and maybe late majority.

    So geeking out is totally fine when you are speaking to the innovators, but won’t work very well with the buyers in the other segments of the product cycle.

    The issue is this, techies are very specific about who they listen to.

    If you are having a hard time influencing techies, you are probably not one and thus techies don’t respect your opinion.

    If that’s the case, you should quit tech blogging and start a knitting blog and maybe try to influence the laggards.

    This was typed on an smartphone, sorry about any potential typos.

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