•Samsung led the way in Kenya's smartphone market in the review period with 31.7 percent unit share.
•Tecno came in second place with 18.8 percent share, while third-placed Infinix accounted for 9.2 percent shipments.
Supply shortages, inflation and the falling shilling exposed Kenya's smartphone market to a year-on year decline, with device shipment going down by down 13.5 percent.
The factors led to an increase in import costs and higher street prices, with consumer spending on smartphones also witnessing a decline as prices for basic commodities increased, constraining budgets for technology products.
International Data Corporation (IDC) Q4 2022 report shows that smartphones now account for 72 percent share of overall mobile phone shipments to the country.
The decline is the second in a row after Q3 2022.
The market intelligence firm points out that the reason for the decline might also be because smartphone distributors held back on their investments and reduced their inventories as prices kept fluctuating in an attempt to avoid losses.
"While the general market sentiment was negative in Q4 2022 and reflective of the supply chain squeeze that occurred throughout 2022, those vendors that offered their products via asset-financing platforms were the least impacted, demonstrating a growing appetite for mobile financing schemes," says George Mbuthia, a senior research analyst at IDC.
Samsung led the way in Kenya's smartphone market in the review period with 31.7 percent unit share.
Tecno came in second place with 18.8 percent share, while third-placed Infinix accounted for 9.2 percent shipments.
Samsung leveraged its distribution through the M-KOPA asset-financing platform, which provides underbanked customers in Africa with the opportunity to purchase products like smartphones.
"As shown by the rapid uptake of M-PESA, these platforms promise the next big innovative service and fast penetration, appealing to the vast but untapped segments of the consumer base in Africa. Very soon, the industry will witness these platforms grow, taking the smartphone market along with it," added Mbuthia.
The share of smartphone shipments from the lower price band of below $100 (Sh13,000) declined year on year, from 41.2 percent in Q4 2021 to 28.6 percent in Q4 2022.
To take advantage of higher profit margins, vendors shifted their portfolios to the mid-level price band of between $100 to $200(Sh13000 to Sh26,000) in Q4 2022, with the share of shipments from this band increasing to 55.3 percent, up from 41.0 percent in Q4 2021.
The premium price band of around $450 (Sh60,000) saw its share of shipments grow year on year, spurred by new model launches and increased marketing investment in this segment.
In 2023, IDC expects Kenya's smartphone market to remain relatively flat, with shipments growing by just 1.4 percent.
"Inflation is expected to hurt the smartphone market this year and the recovery will begin only in the final quarter of 2023 as economic uncertainty diminishes, vendors bring price volatility under control, and supply shortages come to an end," says Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.
"With all the challenges in the market, the rapid transition to smartphones will continue, enabled by mobile financing schemes such as M-KOPA and Easy-Pay that help consumers to purchase new devices even as prices continue to rise."