Up until a couple of weeks ago, I used to wonder why Apple didn’t have a lion share in Kenya’s mobile phone market. Android-powered mobile phones are popular here, reason why the Samsung S4 has more buzz than the iPhone 5.
My reasons ranged from price – but let’s face it, there are phones nearly as pricey as the iPhone, yet people still purchase them – to marketing strategy, to lack of proper research, to locals’ habits.
This post began after my sister received an iPhone from her boyfriend Down Under. After all the stress that came with it, we both concluded that a Kenyan needs an iPhone like a fish needs a bicycle.
It’s a perfectly fine mobile phone to have if all you would use it for is making and receiving calls, texting, and looking up the definition of a word once in a while on Google. Just like my salonist felt duped after she purchased the Huawei IDEOS and it turned out that she only uses it for phone calls and texts, while the in-built hundred social apps go unused.
That aside, if you’re a Kenyan who prefers your phone to be a social gadget for entertainment, the iPhone is not the way to go. You might as well just get the Samsung Galaxy S4 because you will get more out of it.
First of all, my sister learned that the iPhone doesn’t use the regular SIM card that other smartphones use. Our mobile phone service providers don’t have micro-SIM cards, so they have to CUT it to resize it. All fine, since she didn’t lose any contacts in her address book.
Second, accessing the Internet was a problem. The service provider had programmed her phone with local settings, but for some odd reason, she couldn’t log on to the Internet. It was another trip back to Customer Care, and after they tinkered with it, she was able to browse.
Third, she needed WhatsApp. She’s a regular user of the app (cheaper texting the boyfriend in Aussie), and lo and behold, she couldn’t download it. The App Store required her to have an Apple ID, and she went ahead and created an account. Still, she couldn’t get WhatsApp, because Apple products in some countries are restricted. Like that aggravating message that pops up because the video “you are trying to watch cannot be viewed from your current location”.
Apple apps are not like Android or Symbian apps that you can download from anywhere online – you gotta do it the Apple way. Eventually, my sister had to use her boyfriend’s Apple account to get WhatsApp; as much as she created her own account, being in Kenya left her out in the cold. So for the Kenyan who doesn’t know anyone abroad with access to the Apple Store, you’re screwed.
Apple has international restrictions on what users can download in their store. As a Kenyan, having iTunes on my computer is pretty useless because I cannot download music, books, audiobooks, videos…the list goes on and on and on. I mean, can you blame us for illegally downloading music?
Another thing that surprised me was when she told me that the iPhone doesn’t have FM radio; you either listen to music stored on your phone or online radio.
Considering that the iPhone doesn’t have a memory card slot, it does have a sizable internal memory. But…if you want to move photos around (perhaps to keep them away from prying eyes), you need an app to let you do that.
Every app you need/want has to come from the iTunes Store, and with all the effort required to get the most out of your iPhone, you would rather own an Android-run phone.
The iPhone sounded like a pretty neat phone to have, the ability to have tons of apps that you can download cheaply, but after the theatrics that follow my sister’s use of it, I say no, thank you. I don’t often appreciate my cheap Symbian-operated Nokia, but right now, I’m terribly grateful for the easy thrill it affords me.