AP­PLE UPS ITS LO­CAL RE­TAIL GAME

Two Amer­i­can firms – Ap­ple and Mass­mart – are team­ing up to con­quer the smart de­vice mar­ket in South Africa, which is presently dom­i­nated by three top brands: Nokia, Sam­sung and Black­Berry.

Finweek English Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BY GUGU LOURIE ed­i­to­rial@fin­week.co.za

Although Nokia and Black­Berry’s share of the global mo­bile mar­ket is di­min­ish­ing, these brands re­main pop­u­lar i n SA. This was con­firmed in the Mo­bile Africa 2015 study re­cently con­ducted by GeoPoll and World Wide Worx , which sur­veyed 3 500 mo­bile phone users in five of Africa’s ma­jor mar­kets, namely SA, Nige­ria, Kenya, Ghana a nd Uganda. Ac­cord­ing to the study, 36% of par­tic­i­pants in SA pre­ferred Nokia; 21% pre­ferred Sam­sung and 14% Black­Berry. While 6% of all 3 500 par­tic­i­pants in­di­cated they had a Black­Berry, 17% in­di­cated their next phone would be a Black­Berry. This is in stark con­trast to its global f ig­ures; global re­search f irm IDC es­ti­mates that Black­Berry con­trols 0.3% of the global smart­phone mar­ket.

The Mo­bile Africa study con­firmed a widely held view that Nokia re­mains the sin­gle big­gest phone brand in the ma­jor African mar­kets. How­ever, its mar­ket share is plum­met­ing fast, ac­cord­ing to the study. It also found that old Black­Ber­ries have en­tered the mass mar­ket, and are still re­garded as a sta­tus sym­bol in much of Africa.

Mean­while China’s smart­phone gi­ant Xiaomi is also plan­ning to en­ter t he South African mar­ket. Ap­ple seems to be pre­par­ing it­self for an on­slaught f rom Xiaomi i n SA, a mar­ket in which its iPhone en­joys a share of 5%.

AN AL­LUR­ING AL­LIANCE

It is against t his back­ground t hat JSE-listed re­tailer Mass­mart, which is owned by US re­tail con­glom­er­ate Wal­mart Stores, qui­etly teamed up with US tech­nol­ogy gi­ant Ap­ple.

Mass­mart CEO Guy Hayward in­formed in­vestors via the JSE that they were “ex­cited that nine stores ( DionWired) have been s elec t ed re­cently to be­come Ap­ple White Stores”. Mass­mart, which im­ports most of its elec­tronic prod­ucts, didn’t pro­vide f ur­ther in­for­ma­tion on DionWired stores and the deal with Ap­ple.

DionWired stores pro­vide a wide range of dis­cern­ing brands such as Ap­ple, Smeg, Marantz, Bose and Onkyo to the South African high­er­in­come con­sumer.

Ap­ple is part­ner­ing with Mass­mart in or­der to tar­get high-end cus­tomers fre­quent­ing DionWired. It also wants to make its brand more prom­i­nent ahead of its ri­vals such as Sam­sung, Huawei and Sony.

Mass­mart said the first DionWired out­lets to re­ceive the White Store makeover would i nclude Gate­way in Dur­ban and the Canal Walk and Som­er­set West stores in the Western Cape. “The stores will be de­signed by Ap­ple US to give you the Ap­ple ex­pe­ri­ence; even the store fix­tures will be set up by a spe­cial­ist team,” DionWired di­rec­tor, Nazim Cas­sim, said.

“The whole store will not be branded Ap­ple, but will have a ded­i­cated Ap­ple area, which will be branded in ac­cor­dance with Ap­ple cor­po­rate iden­tity. To date, we have ap­proved nine stores for the roll-out.”

For Mass­mart, t his part­ner­ship rep­re­sents a pos­si­ble op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther di­ver­sify its rev­enue streams or bulk up DionWired sales for smart de­vices; for Ap­ple t he part­ner­ship could be a strat­egy to po­si­tion it­self in a high-end re­tail space and pre­pare for com­pe­ti­tion from Xiaomi.

The of­fi­cial my­i­s­tore.co.za web­site cur­rently lists 20 Ap­ple iS­tores in SA. Be­tween 2007 and 2014, Ap­ple grew its num­ber of stores world­wide from 197 to 437.

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