Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria has been rated as the third largest market in terms of potential feature phone volumes, which has continued to grow over the last three years. Latest research from Counterpoint Research has shown.

Nigeria is one of the countries, where many citizens live on an income of less than US$2. 50 per day. This segment can neither afford a smartphone nor the data services demanded by the growing advancement in smartphone use-cases. Thus, a feature phone, coupled with basic mobile services has been the go-to offering for these users to communicate and connect.

The research also shows that India remains the largest market, followed by Bangladesh, estimating that in 2019, a little more than 400 million feature phones will be sold globally with further feature phone shipments expected to cross one billion units by 2021.

In Africa, where Nigeria is leading, growth is led by brands like itel and TECNO, while much of the growth of feature phones in India has been driven by the revival of the Nokia-branded feature phones and the popularity of the Jio Phone, a smart feature phone which packs a chipset and an operating system that can support sophisticated smartphone-like features in a traditional feature phone form-factor.

The research, which was released a few days ago, noted that India and the Middle East Africa region will drive the growth of the global feature phone market by capturing nearly three-quarter of the market share in 2019.

“India and the Middle East Africa region will see cumulative shipments of around 800 million feature phones out of more than one billion global feature phone shipments over the next three years. Globally, the feature phone segment is forecast to generate around US$16 billion cumulatively in wholesale hardware revenues over the next three years,” said Peter Richardson, Research Director of Counterpoint Research.

Courterpoint attributed several reasons why feature phones are the preferred mobile phone in many markets globally, despite the tremendous adoption of smartphones. One of the important factors is affordability, where the bottom of the pyramid population across the world simply cannot afford a smartphone.

There is also a need for longer battery life. The feature phones provide that leverage as it consumes less power, especially emerging markets of India and Nigeria, where a greater number of people are without electricity.

Counterpoint Research believes that markets in Africa, especially Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania have the highest potential for feature phones. In terms of the total addressable market opportunity, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa remain the key markets.


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