The arrival of Covid-19 in 2020 exposed shortfalls in terms of disadvantaged youth’s access to much-needed technology. The Chinese cellphone giant itel Mobile is aiming to change that
In the next five to 10 years, the democratisation of technology will be one of the key drivers of disruption and how new opportunities are created in the world.
Global research and advisory firm Gartner places democratisation only behind the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning (hyperautomation) and advances in people-literate technologies in terms of impact in the next decade.
Democratisation essentially means that people will be provided easy access to technical or business expertise without extensive and costly training. In simpler terms, it is “citizen access” to technologies.
However, if there is to be true democratisation, affordability – and therefore access – will be key.
The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa exposed severe shortcomings in this regard.
Hundreds of thousands of school learners and university students, many whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, were unable to access online study materials for remote learning purposes because they could not afford devices or an internet connection.
Even with government-sponsored and private sector programmes to roll out the technology, many fell through the cracks. Alarming drop-out rates bore unfortunate testimony to this.
But things are changing.
A data study by the publication Android Authority shows that while there was a noticeable increase in the typical price for the most expensive flagship model smartphones in 2020, there was a “barely noticeable” increase in prices of affordable models.
Smartphone sales in Africa’s emerging economies reflect this trend as well.
In April, it was announced that premier Chinese smartphone brand TECNO Mobile, owned by TRANSSION, bested Korean giant Samsung for handset sales in Africa in 2020, confirming its status as the Number 1 smartphone brand on the continent.
Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor said the TRANSSION Holdings-owned brand’s successful launch of handset models in the affordable segment and continued market spending had allowed it to make significant inroads on the continent.
TRANSSION has not only recognised the importance of keeping its latest devices affordable for easy-access purposes, but understands that Africa’s youth population requires phones able to offer the same features as higher-end flagship models do.
This month, TRANSSION brand itel Mobile will be launching its Vision1 Pro entry-level smartphone in South Africa.
The phone harnesses a HD+ 6.5-inches Waterdrop Fullscreen display, and it is powered by a quad-core UNISOC CPU that supports 4G LTE network.
Coming in with a 32GB storage memory and 2GB RAM, and a 6.5 inch HD + Drop display, the Vision1 is also equipped with an 8MP + QVGA rear camera and 5MP front camera. Face unlock and fingerprint sensors feature as well.
The phone will sell for a recommended R1,699 – far cheaper than its competitors in this sector of the smartphone market.
After years of development, itel has expanded its brand in some 50 emerging markets globally and African business, an authoritative business publication based in Britain, ranked itel 21st in its 2020 Top 100 Most Admired Brands in Africa ranking.
To achieve such results, itel has devoted a significant amount of time to understanding what millennial and Gen Z consumers, many of them students, want from a phone.
Technology that is able to enhance their social connection experience is high on their list of priorities, and considering that Gen Z represents 27.5-million people in South Africa and millennials a further 14-million, it stands to reason that itel is placing so much emphasis on meeting their expectations.
itel’s approach is already paying off in other emerging markets like India, one of the five BRICS nations.
According to the business publication Business World, rural millennials in India for whom social networks are essential technologies are switching to newer networking platforms for different experiences and content, even while Facebook and Instagram remain popular.
“Platforms like TikTok and Helo are popular in the segment and with the mantra that every user can be a creator from their smartphone, these digital touchpoints are becoming addictive and highly entertaining eventually providing leverage for brands to tap these rural millennials,” Business World said in an April 24 report.
“Concerning this, itel is the perfect example as the brand has positioned its leadership in the segment with its differentiated product portfolio, robust distribution network and post-sale experience backed by a customised marketing approach, establishing an emotional and cultural connection with its users,” says Business World.
South Africa’s younger rural population, heavily impacted by a lack of access to technologies, will have much the same demands as their Indian counterparts, which is why itel is pulling out all the stops to introduce models like the Vision1 Pro to the market.