By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
HTC counts on launching smartphones that meet the demands of the Egyptian customer to increase its market share this year. Tarek Abdel Mohsen, Marketing Director of JoVi Tronix, HTC’s exclusive agent in Egypt, said the local market is one of the strongest growing regional markets for smartphones.
During an interview with Daily News Egypt, Abdel Mohsen said that, on a monthly basis, the smartphones market sales are at 50,000 phones, which reflects the growth rate of the sector. He believes that informal phones are the biggest challenge to the Egyptian market because of its increasing number, as well as the fluctuating dollar exchange rate and complications in governmental procedures for receiving smartphone shipments. Abdel Mohsen demands that the government mechanise customs duty operations, as well as other official procedures, for receiving imported shipments from its mother company.
What are the challenges and investment opportunities in the Egyptian market?
Regarding phones, the Egyptian market has potential for growth in the smartphones sector through the young people who represent the majority of the population, the increasing demand on smartphones because of service applications, and the transfer from traditional old phones to smartphones. The growth in the smartphones sector is at 50,000 phones monthly, which reflects opportunities in the sector locally. When it comes to challenges, the informal phones are one of the most important challenges because of how much they own in the market share as a result of the low prices compared to other well-known brands, besides the volatile exchange rate of foreign currencies, especially that Egypt is an importer of phones rather than a producer. This is also in addition to the governmental procedures to receive phone shipments.
How do you see the mobile phone market in the last period?
It was the only sector not hugely affected by the past three years because of the major change in the needs and consumption of users. The real change in consumption of the Egyptian user started in 2011, turning to smartphones especially after several events at that time, which contributed to increasing the need for smartphones, in order to communicate through social networking websites.
What is your evaluation for the mobile phones market in 2014?
The stable political situation in Egypt in 2014 greatly contributed to the amount of pumped investments from the company and the government. This helped sales in the market to grow and sales doubled compared to 2013.
What is the rate of smartphones’ market growth locally?
During 2011, smartphones in use were barely at 500,000 devices. Right now, sold smartphones in the local market are at 6.5m phones, while our monthly sales reached 500,000 phones, which reflect an increasing growth rates in the sector.
What is the most significant feature in HTC phones compared to its competitors?
The company spends roughly 50% of its revenues on research and development to guarantee continuity of developing its products. The company has more than 5,000 employees, 4,300 of which are working in the research and development sector. Our products are also of high quality and innovation. For example, the company patented its HTC One 8 for manufacturing an all-metal phone without affecting the quality of the network, which is technically impossible, but the company solved this by putting a thin layer of plastic, visible on the back of the phone, on the part that receives network.
Our products are the best of the Android operating system, because even though they are a bit expensive, they are of high quality that other competitors do not offer. Despite a competitor’s effort to launch costly marketing campaigns which amounted to $100 per phone for phones of barely EGP 5,000, our HTC Desire 816 was still the top sold device in 2014.
What are your expansion plans during 2015?
We plan to increase our after-sales service centres and develop them. Currently, we have centres in Mansoura, Ismailia, Aswan, Alexandria, and Cairo. We aim to increase them to 12 centres by the end of this year. We are also planning to increase maintenance centres from five to ten centres this year.
What are the features an Egyptian consumer is looking for in smartphones before taking the buying decision?
The price is the most important factor in the buying decision. Prices in the local market are poor and the user usually buys devices less than EGP 1,500 which represents 75% of the annual market sales in the country. The batter life, screen size, and camera resolution are also important factors. Recently, Egyptian users started to care about the front camera for selfie pictures. This led HTC to add flash to the front camera and offer it with 13MP resolution.