Google’s Android in Kenya

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Over the weekend I did a blog post here about the low-cost but reasonably high-end Huawei IDEOS Android smartphone that had been announced this past week in Europe. The big news in this respect was that the IDEOS is expected to launch globally at a price between US$ 100.00 to US$ 200.00 (i.e. Kes. 8,000.00 to Kes. 16,000.00) without an operator contract, making it particularly suited for Africa.

In an interesting turnof events, my blog post was spot on as the front page of the Business Daily this morning carried a story by Kui Kinyanjui confirming that the IDEOS would be coming to Kenya at an expected retail price of Kes. 8,000.00. This was further confirmed today at Google’s G-Kenya event that started today in Nairobi at Strathmore University via an official announcement from Google representatives.

However, even though the thought of an Android smartphone at only Kes. 8,000.00, which is even less than a good number of feature phones in the marketplace today, the bigger announcement of the day was that Google was launching their hugely successful Android Market in Kenya as well. Kenya is only the second country in Africa to get Android Market after South Africa.

Android Market is an online apps store developed by Google for Android devices (not just handsets but everything else that may run on Android such as tablets and notebooks). The Android Market is accessed via a mobile app called that is typically pre-installed on Android devices. It enables users to browse, select and download mobile apps for their Android devices.

The most significant thing about Android Market for Kenya is that it enables third-party developers to publish apps that can be either free or for sale. In terms of monetizing apps, the way it works is that app developers get to keep 70% of the app value when sold in the store and the balance of 30% is usually shared between the mobile networks as well as payment processors (in Kenya, in addition to premium billing, this could also be done via mobile money services such as Safaricom’s M-Pesa, Zain’s Zap or YU’s YUcash).

As of August 2010, the Android Market has over 100,000 apps published and to-date and they have collectively been downloaded over 1 billion times to-date. At this juncture, apps are being published to Android Market at a rate of over 10,000 per month. Currently, Android mobile handsets are the fastest growing segment of smartphones globally and they have already eclipsed Apple’s iPhone in terms of the rate of adoption.

However, Nokia at this time is leading in Kenya with its OVI app store which already features several locally developed apps from Kenya. In addition, Samsung is also in the process of developing local apps in Kenya for its Bada platform. The good news is that app developers in Kenya now have more platforms on which they can publish and monetize their apps as well as reach not only local markets but also global markets.

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