I recently carried out research for a client on the status of the Nigerian smart phone market. Here are just a few of the main points to take out of the paper proper. Statistics was gathered from a some sources and I hope someone will find this useful.

Africa is now the second largest telecoms market in the world, only coming after Asia.

With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, thus becoming the fastest developing mobile market in the world.

Nigeria has about 93 million subscribers representing 16% of  the continent’s mobile subscribers base.

About one in every 20 mobile phones in Nigeria is a  smart phone.

While it does seem that RIM is losing the innovation race globally, it is doing very well in Africa and in particular Nigeria.

All of Nigeria’s four main mobile networks offer various BlackBerry packages. Not a single one of them has a partnership with Apple to sell iPhones,

Status is a big thing in the Nigeria society, and the Blackberry device is an aspirational brand. Some people who bought Blackberry in the early days never even subscribed to the service; it was enough to be seen with the smart phone.

While the first mobiles gave Nigerians who had never had fixed lines the chance to communicate over distance, faster networks and smartphones have given people who cannot afford computers access to the internet, and social media sites in particular.

The number of people going to cyber cafes has been on a decline, since people can now use their phones to do the same job. Statistics is also shows Nigeria has one of the largest mobile penetration rate for the Internet in the world with 81% of Internet traffic originating from mobile devices.

Today BlackBerry in Nigeria is less about business, and more about youth culture.

Over the past five years, the number of subscribers across Africa has grown by almost 20 per cent each year and will reach more than 735 million by the end of 2012.

There are now 2.4million active BlackBerry subscribers in the country.

As wonderful as Android is doing globally, the medium and high-end models remains a niche offering here in Nigeria but it is really getting a lot of traction. A very small percentage of people in Nigeria use it. The same holds for iOS, which has an even smaller number of users.

Android does however still presents the biggest challenge to Blackberry in my opinion in the smart phone space. The richness of the operating system, ease of use and access to several hundred thousands of applications makes it a serious threat.  The availability of cheaper, Chinese handsets running the same Android OS should further drive home this point. Every single mobile operator in Nigeria is branding one low cost android phone or the other. The introduction of dual sim android phones which are also low cost is also a game changer, this units are flying off the shelves.

All the networks are offering them and people are really getting on board now.

Whether you love it or you hate it, BlackBerry still whips up strong feelings here in Nigeria and really does command a lot of attention here.

There are those who very ignorantly say that Nigeria is BlackBerry’s last market.

The top 3 mobile manufacturers in Africa:

Nokia: 60.9%

Samsung: 20.3%

Sony Ericsson: 6.3%

The top 3 smart phone platforms in Africa are:

Symbian: 24.2%

BlackBerry: 3.1%

Android: 0.7%

Mobile media consumption is continuing to grow exponentially in Nigeria and, indeed, across much of the African continent. That’s according to research conducted by InMobi – the largest independent mobile advertising network – which revealed growth of 37% in mobile advertising impressions on its Nigeria mobile network for the first three months of 2012.

With more than 8 billion advertising impressions for the first quarter, Nigeria is InMobi’s largest mobile advertising network in Africa.

Approximately 10% of all mobile advertising impressions recorded on the Nigerian InMobi network were from smartphones. This represents quarter-on-quarter growth of 42% in smart phone use in the country, pointing to the rapid adoption of this technology by growing numbers of Nigerians.

At a product specific level, Nokia continues to dominate the Nigerian market, accounting for 77% of all impressions. While this is slightly down on the 79% of the previous quarter.

While RIM (Blackberry) phones only accounted for 2% of the total mobile advertising impressions on the InMobi network, it is perhaps significant that this is the fastest growing brand in terms of impressions, having enjoyed 0.4% growth on the previous quarter.

In the smart phone space, below is how it plays out in Nigeria.

Android

Dynamic. Available is many flavours. Has offerings for all classes. Cheap and high-end options. Feature full. All networks carry at least 2 Android offerings. The cheaper Chinese offerings have made it easier to buy this phones. Tecno which is well known for low-cost phone offerings recently released its Android powered mobile device, this I believe will drop the cost of smartphones further as Tecno is notorious for really cheap phones. Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG all play in the Android space.

Blackberry

2.4 million users in Nigeria. Available on all networks. aspirational. Now a youth culture thing. Still very aspirational. Unique selling point remains the messenger feature is quite addictive.

Symbian

Solid OS but dropping market share. Wide adoption in Nigeria. Very practical phones. Not as trendy or aspirational as the iPhone or the Blackberry, very practical.

The iPhone (Not really in the race)

A truly aspirational brand. Not very common. Niche market . Penetration is low compared to Android and Blackberries here in Nigeria. Not carried by any network in Nigeria. Expensive. The platform is the most robust of all the smart phone players, it has more apps than all others in its store.

Windows Phone

Hard to say much here except that it holds a lot of potentials. No even on the radar here in Nigeria. Nokia and Samsung are some of the big players who have signed up on Microsoft’s phone platform and as they both are the leading mobile phone brands in Nigeria, expect to see them make a very strong stand very soon.