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The energetic, intelligent and full of life youth is a major asset of the Nigerian population. Forming about one-thirds of the total population of Nigeria, young people (and their expenditures) comprise an important part of the generation of GDP of Nigeria. As the worldwide connectivity of youth has undergone massive growth, the smartphone industry has also faced a boom in terms of product penetration, marketing and usage.
After all, who wants a feature phone when smartphones have it all?
Even though internet and mobile market penetration has been low in Nigeria, as compared to other parts of the world, the country showed one of the fasted growing industries in smartphones, globally. Feature phones are increasingly being thought of as low-end phones that are nearing the possibility of extinction. Why may that be the case, when high-end feature phones promises similar facilities (email, messaging, games etc.) to smartphones?
The answer lies in third-party connectivity and applications. A young person has many responsibilities and duties to fulfill, and is constantly on the go. Education, social interaction, friendships, sports and house chores are few of the activities that every adolescent has. A smartphone, whether it is an Android, Apple, Blackberry or Google, has features that let it connect to third party applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. It also allows the inquisitive youth to explore millions of games and to play them with friends and other people across the world. Feature phones, on the other hand limit the user to explore applications that are inbuilt or available on the company’s store and can be accessible to the user. Nokia was amongst one of the first companies to launch a high-end feature phone. Yet, it is no longer the up and coming manufacturer of smartphones, as it did not allow connectivity to third-party applications but now adapting to market realities fast.
Moreover, telecom operators such as MTN, 9Mobile, Globacom and Airtel etc. have not only launched 4G services, but have also converted to flexible consumer-based packages for the utilization of internet phone calls and text messages. In the past, coverage of networks, reduced connectivity due to minimum bandwidth and various other technological barriers had hampered the usage of smartphones, and made them an expensive commodity. But with the promised increase in bandwidth, 5G coverage penetration as well as cheaper handsets and tablets available to the population in Nigeria, there will be nothing to stop younger people from buying smartphones instead of old feature-phones with limited access.
According to the yearly economic analysis, Nigeria is to see a growth in smartphone users from 3% in 2011 to 18% in 2020, whereas feature phones are likely to face a decrease during these years. This may be due to the whirlwind of youngsters buying smartphones, as connectivity to social media even for young activists and entrepreneurs have faced an increase in Nigeria and the youth are positive about bringing a change in the health, social and economic facets of their nation.
Thus the ease of connectivity and reduced smartphone prices will shift the youth towards buying more smart phones than feature phones.
Furthermore, it is believed that the entrants of Payment Service Bank (PSBs) into the Nigerian Banking market will create additional demands for smartphones.