For over a year now, Safaricom has embarked on a campaign to make sure as many Kenyans as possible transition from using feature phones to smartphones.
In a campaign dubbed Maisha ni Digital, Kenya’s largest telecommunications company has taken it upon itself to woo Kenyans to adopt the smartphone and consume the various digital products it offers, starting with mobile data.
For this, it has used every trick in the book, including layby arrangements where people pay for a device in instalments and get to pick it up at a Safaricom shop upon completion of payment.
This has come with its fair share of impact.
Last year, the company announced that since the start of the year, January 2019, to then, September 2019, it had managed to sell at least 600,000 units of its Neon-branded smartphones.
The Neon brand is Safaricom’s own in-house smartphone brand comprising devices made by partners in Asia tailored for its customers in Kenya.
These devices have, since day 1, been powered by Android.
Since late 2018, Safaricom has partnered with Google to have Google’s operating system meant for devices with meagre system resources (memory, storage, battery, etc), which is what its Neon lineup is, power them.
Now, thanks to this partnership with Google, we now have a good idea what the numbers look like for Safaricom’s entry-level smartphone lineup since September.
While revealing the latest features for the Android Go platform, Google also revealed the sales numbers of the Neon.
“In partnership with Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecom provider, we brought more than 900,000 Android (Go edition) smartphones to people in Kenya — 53 percent of whom were women—through their “Life is Digital” campaign.”
While Safaricom is yet to confirm this number, that gives us something to work with.
While a number of other devices powered by the Go edition of Android have been available locally, it is highly unlikely that Google is referring to any of these.
Google has made a habit of updating us on such numbers. It referenced the 600,000 sales figure from Safaricom days later on stage at its Google4Kenya event in Nairobi.
For over a year, Safaricom has been selling the Neon Kicka 4, Neon Ray, Neon Storm, Neon Nova, Neon Plus Neon Lite and Neon Nova LTE.