Wins In Africa Put Continent’s Top Smartphone Maker In Global Top Ranks

By  |  November 14, 2023

Africa’s top smartphone seller, Transsion; a Chinese manufacturer recognized for its Tecno, Itel, and Infinix brands, has quietly secured its place as the world’s fifth-largest smartphone maker, as reported by market analysis firms Canalys, IDC, and Omdia. While this accomplishment has largely gone unnoticed in Europe and North America, Transsion has strategically focused on markets in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Oceania.

Transsion’s success is particularly pronounced in Africa, where it outpaces smartphone giants Samsung and Xiaomi in sales and holds a 43 percent market share, according to IDC. The exact quarter of Transsion’s entry into the global top five varies among market reports. IDC and Omdia indicate Transsion’s ascent in the second quarter of this year, while Canalys suggests it happened in the third quarter. Irrespective of the timeline, all reports agree that Transsion is now a top-five player, joining the ranks of Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, and Oppo. However, Counterpoint Research places Vivo in the fifth spot, introducing a degree of discrepancy, The Verge reports.

Transsion’s growth is attributed to its strategic focus on emerging markets, where demand has remained robust compared to more developed regions. Notably, the Middle East and Africa were the only regions to record year-on-year smartphone growth in Q3, benefiting Transsion, which capitalized on the rebound in emerging markets through competitive products and effective channel engagements.

By selling phones with two SIM cards and cameras that are more appropriately adjusted for people with darker skin tones as part of its nuanced strategy, coupled with targeted marketing, Transsion placed itself in a prime position to address consumer needs in the Global South, leveraging strategic investments.

In 2011, Transsion established its first assembly plant in Africa, in Addis Ababa. From this outpost, it grew its exports of feature phones and other reasonably priced smartphones to important markets. Its phones aim for the cutting-edge features and designs of luxury phones, but they remain below the higher price points typical of Samsung and Apple products. However, Transsion’s Tecno brand has recently ventured into premium segments, unveiling its first foldable device.

Despite its current success, the question arises whether Transsion can sustain its position in the highly competitive smartphone industry. Counterpoint Research points out that 2023 is anticipated to be the worst year for smartphone shipments in a decade. The trend of consumers in developed markets replacing their phones less frequently could create a significant opportunity for manufacturers with a focus on emerging markets.

As Transsion navigates the evolving landscape of the smartphone industry, maintaining its standing among the top global players will depend on its ability to adapt to changing market dynamics and consumer preferences, especially in the challenging year predicted for 2023.

Featured Image Credits: Sun Ruibo/Xinhua/eyevine/Red​ux

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