Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Microsoft launches smartphone

By MUTHOKI MUMO [email protected]

Microsoft has launched a new smartphone that may shake up the local handset market.

The Microsoft 4Afrika smartphone runs on the company’s Windows Phone 8 operating system and is a customized version of Huawei’s Ascend W1 handset.

The new phone will be available in the Kenya and six other African countries by the end of February this year.

According to the American multinational, the phone has been built with the needs of university students, developers and first time users in mind.

“The time is right for this device to be launched into the African markets. The continent is hungry for smartphones,” said Mr Kevin Connolly, Microsoft’s business group manager in Africa in Nairobi Tuesday.

Data from the GSM association shows that Africa is the fastest growing smartphone market in the world having reported 43 per cent annual growth since 2000.

Mobile phone manufacturers such as Samsung and Blackberry have already realised this and are flooding the continent with their product. The Huawei 4Afrika will have to compete with offerings from these companies that are already in the market.

The phone launch was part of the larger 4Afrika initiative that Microsoft is pursuing as it marks 20 years of operations on the continent.

Over the next three years, the company will invest approximately Sh6.52 billion ($75 million) in initiatives targeted at the youth, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and rural communities.