Egypt’s mobile market has been rapidly expanding in recent years. It is estimated that the number of smartphone users in Egypt accounted for 23.6 million in 2017 and are forecasted to reach almost 28 million by 2019.
Soda Mobile is the latest player to join the Egyptian market and Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with the company’s brand director, Frank Chen, to find out why they chose Egypt as a starting point for their company, and their plans in the next period. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Can you introduce Soda Mobile?
Soda is our mother’s company’s branch in Egypt, Chenyee, the mother company, is a mobile phone products manufacturing company, working with different companies such as Mircromax, Lava mobile in India, Qmobile in Pakistan, and we have more than over eight years of expertise in the market.
We decided to start our own brand, so we decided to establish Soda Mobile, and we chose Egypt as our starting point, and established the company in November 2017.
What drove you to choose Egypt?
Egypt is a huge market, with a very large population of 100 million, and the Egyptian economy is among the best in Africa, plus we had previous knowledge of the Egyptian market.
The recent reforms undertaken by the authorities improved the economic conditions. In any country where you start a business there will always be difficulties, but we believe that Egypt is a perfect place to start in, and we didn’t face any problems obtaining the licenses.
With almost 30 mobile brands in Egypt, in such fierce competition what makes you different?
With our manufacturing experience in other countries, it is all about your company, and your ability to manage your brand and business model. Take a look at the Egyptian market, you can see different brands, such as Huawei, their edge is that they are a very high technology company, while Oppo on the other hand, their business model is based on high price high specifications (specs), while Infinix for example, offer average quality and specs at a cheaper price.
For us, our main focus is the product itself, which has proven successful records in different countries, under other brand names.
We aim to create a cost-effective, high-quality, and premium technology product for the tech-savvy youth, of today who have grown accustomed to cost-effective state-of-the-art attractive technology.
The company launched smartphones with high-quality specifications and we target mainly the mobile segment that falls below the EGP 3,000 mark, and according to our data 75% of the volume of sales in the Egyptian market are within this segment.
Can you elaborate on your total investments in Egypt, plus targeted market share?
Our target is to invest $1m in 2018. We want to set a reasonable target, and we aim to have a 5% market share by the end of 2019.
Do you have plans to establish a factory or assembly line in Egypt?
Our main priority at the moment is to reach a high sales volume, once this is achieved, we can start thinking about establishing the factory.
Do you have any plans to partnership with mobile operators, perhaps online-retailers?
We started in April a partnership with Jumia, and we also are keeping touch with Souq, but at the moment we are focusing to establish our brand, before we plan partnerships with any operators.
How many smartphone models does your company currently offer?
At the moment we have two mobile phones, first the Soda S1 mobile, which is a middle-end smartphone featuring a 5.5-in display, 3GB ram, 32GB internal memory ROM, 8 megapixels front camera, 13 megapixels rear camera, and comes with a 3000MAH battery.
Second is the Soda E1 budget phone, which comes with 4000mAh battery, 2GB ram, 16GB ROM, 2 megapixels front camera, and 13 megapixels rear camera, with a 5.5-in display.
In addition to smartphones the company currently has various mobile accessories, including charging cables, chargers, and headphones. Both S1 and E1 come with 15 months warranty.
We also plan to launch another two mobile phones in October, considered to be our high-end smartphone, which is the S2, with a huge 6.19-in screen, 8MP front camera, 13 and 2 MP dual rear camera, 32GB ROM, 3GB ram, and 4050 mAh battery.
Finally, our other budget phone option is the Soda Fire. It comes with a huge 5.34-in screen, 5MP front camera, 5 MP rear camera, 8GB ROM, 1GB ram, and 2300mAh battery.
We are also considering introducing other electronics.
Can you tell us about your company’s marketing strategy?
For the time being, we are mainly focusing on digital channels, instead of a 360-degree marketing approach, in the future maybe we will go beyond digital channels.
Do you plan to own your brand stores?
We are planning to open our own stores, after introducing more products into the Egyptian market, such as tablets, and after achieving a higher market share, then we can open our own store.
Can you elaborate on Chenyee’s scope of activities?
Chenyee specialises in hardware sectors and software systems, as well as research and development. The company-wide reach covers over 50 countries across the globe in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and South Asia.
One of Chenyee’s latest developments is the establishment of the Soda Mobile. Soda is a young, dynamic and innovative technology company focusing on research and development (R&D), manufacturing, marketing on smartphones, and internet of things (IoTs).