Miruna Codeanu

Designed in San Francisco, sold in Africa

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2015 at 7:08 am

made-in-sans-franciscoWhile Apple and Samsung have relied on the Chinese growth, some other companies are looking for other markets. I have previously explained that China is a tough market: half government controlled, so called free market where the massive state PR machine can interfere at any moment. It happened to Apple and many other companies. Meanwhile, some other companies are looking towards the African horizon.

Meet Obi. Obi is a company founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley. Obi’s idea was to release a smartphone, called Obi Worldphone, designed in San Francisco. Their aim was to build a “no-compromise smartphone” that can be sold for under $200. The company has released  two Android running models. The novelty is not in the technology itself, but in the markets they plan to target.

Some time ago I was advocating for Xiaomi’s success on the Chinese market. Not because they were doing something extraordinary, but because it was a company based in China, targetting the country’s massive low income population. Sure, China has developed an upper class, but that upper class wasn’t going to be enough to sustain Apple and Samsung’s growth on the Chinese market. That upper class is made of the kids now flying to American universities, and not on a scholarship and their parents. They are the kids buying western brands for their status, while the rest of the population is considering cheaper alternative. The rest of the population bought Xiaomi, and numbers and reports showed it. That’s why I consider Obi’s target an innovation. Obi will be targeting countries like Nigeria and South Africa instead of saturated U.S. and Europe.

You can easily tell from their Facebook page which are the regions where the smartphones will be going first, and probably they are doing location based targeting. The smartphones will be first made available in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Ask me, it was a very intelligent move. Also, i find the inscription “Designed in San Francisco” quite brilliant, besides being a retake of Apple’s “Designed by Apple in California”, it is part of the branding. Developing countries are fascinated with products of western democracies. I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, I’ve seen people fascinated mesmerized with western merchandise. That’s why, a product that is made available to an expanded segment of population, which is branded as “Designed in San Francisco”, has many chances of becoming a success on the African market.

  1. […] will have internet access. Seems that Mark Zuckerberg would be on my side in this bet, also John Sculley and his Obi. Truth be told, in order to avoid another 2008 we need new markets, and until Mars, we have to […]

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