For years the tablet has been the undisputed king of businesses. But smartphones are fast threatening the dominance as they dish out more or less the same features. Manufacturers have taken such features like large touch screens, memory card slots that allow for more storage space, internal GPS and digital compass – all endearing factors among tablet users -and incorporated them in smartphones.

Some have even thrown in value-added features like dust and water resistance, ultra-power saving modes, fast internet connectivity as well as high definition display. Sales of the two devices have led to phenomenal growth of the mobile industry and as a result manufacturers have been setting shops in Kenya to tap into the growing market. Just recently, the latest entrant, X-touch started rolling out smartphones and tablets in an attempt to get a piece of the pie dominated by giants like Samsung, Nokia, LG, Sony and Tecno.

In June this year, Tecno mobile brand from Transsion Holdings also launched the 5.2” Phantom Z that targets the growing middle class. Two years ago Sunberry also made a s**t at the lucrative market with its SunTab and SunPhone. The two are mass market devices that ordinary students and business professionals can afford to buy and use.

According to Samsung Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for East and Central Africa, Robert Ngeru, tablets have become widely used tools for consumption of digital content. The VP said their primary selling point was the larger screens compared to the average smartphone. That today’s tablets have proven to be just as powerful and functional as the basic desktop PC, laptop or netbook has also played to their favour according to Mr Ngeru.

Shifting interests

This, he reckoned has shifted consumer and enterprise interest to tablets as a more viable, portable and in some cases affordable form of mobile computing. In comparison, smartphones still occupy a significant pie of the mobile device market. In their innovation, screen size has been a major competitive factor amongst global vendors – most vendors are neck and neck in the race to capture a share of the market by offering features that matter in this mobile phone revolution, an indication that we now have a tech-smart generation.

“The push for larger screens can be attributed to many factors, one of them being the demand from consumers to have a more comfortable and practical screen space for viewing or working on content. The 7” inch segment is the smallest Tablet screen across all global tablet vendors and most models with this screen size are entry level tablets,” said Mr Ngeru. “While tablets have become less niche in more developed markets, they are still considered by buyers in emerging markets such as ours to be premium and higher value purchase than a mid to high range smartphone.

Owning both a smartphone and Tablet is common across buyers in almost all markets but considerably a higher reflection of status for buyers in our market,” he said adding that their 7” Galaxy Tablet models are some of the fastest selling as they offer superior quality and a wide variety of features and benefits at an affordable price that attracts most first time buyers. Devices such as the Galaxy Mega and Note 3 (phablets) have at least 5”screen size and can be considered to almost venture into tablet space.

They also cost fairly more than the 7” entry level tablets offered due to the unique functionalities that a smart phone would offer versus the user experience on a tablet. It is undeniable that tablets have gained significant traction over time but a spot check in town revealed an interesting twist. Most people who work in corporate firms (and even vendors) bet on smartphones making them the new game-changers that will give tablets a run for their money. To be precise, price wars have kicked a battle of markets as both tablets and smartphones have become more accessible and affordable thanks to an increased offering from a wide array of vendors.

The line is getting  blurred

Mr Ngeru said that tablet demand has been positive in most emerging markets such as Kenya partly fueled by the entry of more competitors. The “w*r” is less about smartphones and tablets in the local market and more about competition from known Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM’s) that are now eyeing the tablet market as global demand continues to shift away from the PC to the tablet. “We should expect that as technology continues to change the lines between multiple mobile devices will continue to be blurred as consumers are offered newer and numerous options,” he said.

The Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology, Fred Matiang’i, while at the launch of Phantom Z said investors can not go wrong with smartphones. “The lion’s share of Kenya’s internet subscribers consume data through their mobile phones,” he said. National bank launches new loan facility for small entrepreneurs Entrepreneurs can now access up to Sh1 million as working or capital investment with flexible collateral requirements thanks to a new product from the National Bank.

Speaking during the launch of “Jenga Biashara”, the bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Munir Sheikh Ahmed said the product is designed for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) who are often faced with monetary challenges in their bid to expand. He added that the bank was keen to tap into the MSEs market that provides direct employment for 7.5 million people in Kenya. “This financial product is bound to open new opportunities for entrepreneurs in this market given that the MSE sector accounts for 80% of the employment market and contributes over 92% of the new jobs created annually, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics,” said Mr Ahmed.

The product, said to provide and enhance business banking solutions is one of the ways the bank is demonstrating its committed to the continued growth of the vibrant sector, according to the CEO. “Jenga Biashara seeks to identify with, empower, connect and grow MSEs in Kenya through befitting propositions that in the long run will help unlock the potential of the entrepreneurs in both the urban and rural areas to scale up and grow,” added Ahmed. Apart from loans, the product will also enable MSEs to enjoy access to unlimited withdrawals, simple account opening procedures, access to visa-branded debit cards, mobile and internet banking.

Entrepreneurs who take up the loans will have a flexible repayment period of up to one year. National Bank recently announced strategic partnerships that provide its customers with access to 1,200 Kenswitch’s ATMs services across East and Central Africa and also provision of agent banking services at the 99 Post Bank branches and over 800 Post Bank Mashinani agents countrywide.

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