I’m adding these first sentences here just to let you know I wrote this post back on 29th December 2019. It is among the posts where I had planned to share my predictions of what would happen in 2020. I still have one on M-Pesa privacy, another on Huawei, and another on TikTok. Subscribe/follow to read those. Also, read my 2020-29 decade predictions.

I’ve already written about Samsung having a great year with the A-series they launched this year. You can bear me witness that very many people you know, or you’ve met have an A-series device. Compare that to just a year ago, and you will agree with IDC’s stats. Despite coming second to Transsion in market share, Samsung are on top in terms of value.

With such positive growth, you can be sure that come next year, they’ll most likely be much more aggressive both in launches, marketing, and in pricing of their 2020 phones. Which means trouble for Transsion with their itel, Infinix, and TECNO brands.

“Everybody bought the A-series in our office”

For a long while, Transsion has been the only major company offering good devices at low end prices. They’ve been the company people have been relying on to fill the void in terms of budget devices which in the past big companies ignored. That is how they got to become Africa’s smartphone king. But this could all change in 2020 because of a couple of reasons. Let me just list them in a rough way:

  • Specifications vs Brand loyalty vs Price
  • China wants Africa – Samsung is back, Xiaomi is here, and, BBK Electronics is also here with OPPO and Vivo.

Brand Loyalty:

Camon 12 and Phantom 9

One may argue this out, but the truth of the matter is Transsion doesn’t enjoy a serious base of die-hard fans as do other companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei etc. In fact, Xiaomi’s fan base is completely on another level of crazy.

Over the years that TECNO and Infinix have taken over the market, one thing they’ve really failed on is getting die hard loyalists who swear by the brand, and would never consider other options. This is why it has been very easy for Samsung to win back buyers in 2019, and why it is easy for Kenyans to consider names they’ve never heard of like Xiaomi and Vivo when buying phones.

Unless Transsion finds a proper way of building serious brand loyalty, in 2020 they will continue to easily lose current customers, and potential buyers.

I am glad they’ve been working on this with music shows, concerts, celebrity promotions and much more. I know for a fact that Infinix’s use of celebs for their marketing has really changed perception of the brand with my family and friends.

Specifications vs Price:

Transsion has always stood out because of their great specs for low end devices. My best example remains the HOT NOTE. When it launched many years ago, it was almost unbelievable for its specs. And that’s what propelled the Infinix brand.

Xiaomi Redmi 8A Kenya
Redmi 8A from Xiaomi

In 2019 we’ve seen very many phones at great prices with unbelievable specs. Consider Xiaomi’s low end phones. They’re so good, it is crazy. I just got the Redmi 8A for 10k, and it has a 5000mAh battery, USB type-C, Corning Gorilla Glass, a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and a Sony Sensor for the rear camera. Tell me, can it compare with the Infinix HOT 8 which is the same price?

Transsion needs to rethink its spec game if for real they want to continue being on top. If it’s batteries, all Vivo devices come with 5000mAh batteries. If it’s cameras, almost all budget phones between 10k and 20k I’ve reviewed this year have good cameras. If it’s software and user interface, Transsion is still forcing users on annoying adverts, and lack of frequent updates. So why would people consider a Transsion phone in 2020 if the other companies are seemingly doing better? I mean have you seen the dedication and speed with which Samsung has updated their phones this year?

In 2020, Transsion needs to rethink a couple of things:

  • It’s not just having crazy specs – people want a good experience. Kill the ads.
  • Modernise chipsets and camera lenses – read any of my reviews, I’ve talked about this.
  • Be unique in design and looks – stop copying. Stop appearing to be copying. Stand out.
  • Reduce unnecessary variants – imagine there’s a total of 4 variants of the Infinix S5, why?
  • Value isn’t just in price – Value is in perception, and comfort.Value is in experience.
Infinix HOT 8 Review
Infinix HOT 8

The whole of China want’s Africa:

Before you ask if Samsung qualifies as being part of China, remember the company has contracted Chinese Original Design Manufacturers to design and build their smartphones for them. One of the first global devices under this contract is the Galaxy A10s. Which will of course sell very well.

Xiaomi is here too with their incredibly well built, and well spec’d devices for amazing low prices. This year they’ve opened up Mi Homes in Nairobi, and have huge plans for 2020. My issue has been their delay to bring products to the Kenyan market. They’re not a company that needs heavy marketing – and that’s sort of how they grow; through brand loyalty. I hope in 2020 they do the most to have all their devices readily available.

Vivo just opened shop in Kenya, and as I’d already discussed in a whole post dedicated to Vivo, they seem to know where to target in terms of pricing. All their devices come with huge 5000mAh batteries, and they’re already available across Kenya, something Xiaomi can’t boast of. It seems BBK Electronics is serious about Africa being that OPPO and Vivo are now here to stay.

If I were Transsion, this is what I’d do in 2020:

  • Focus on Africa – I am not saying forget about India completely, especially with all the manufacturing deals. No. But focus on the continent where you’re actually on top. Xiaomi owns India. Xiaomi owns Asia. Work on getting deals in Africa, these will reduce operational costs, while possibly increasing your profits.
  • Invest in Africa – Transsion went public and raised $400 Million. I’d use that to build the business around Africa. This is where Transsion sells most of their devices. This is where they’re known.
  • Be clear about the numerous Transsion offerings – Transsion makes very many products from phones to TVs, to home appliances. They need to get clear about this, and try and create that wow factor we see with Xiaomi’s home products. How many people for example know Syinix is Transsion’s smart home brand?
  • Reduce confusion on Smartphone products: There’s so many Transsion devices that are basically the same devices with different names. Why? Reduce variants. Reduce having the same device with different names.
  • Stand out – Transsion needs to find every possible way to stand out. It’s no longer a spec vs price game, where whoever has crazy specs for cheap wins. That way no one will ever make money. Transsion have already been the first budget phones to come with punch-hole displays, but I pray they don’t slap that one design on all phones. Standing out will win them loyalty.

What are your predictions for TECNO and Infinix in 2020?



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