Techno nameless in Shenzhen, adored in Logos
The 47-year old $ 2.3 billion Forbes certified billionaire, Zhu Zhaojiang broke ties with the Chinese mobile maker, Ningbo Bird in 2006.
This was after Zhu, whose English moniker is George Zho, abortively globetrotted Europe in search for markets for his Transsion Mobile company’s phones erstwhile aNingbo Bird’s subsidiary.
From his Shenzhen base, George fixated his entrepreneurial binoculars towards Africa and South Asia. Through hearty R&D efforts, Zhu discovered that earlier mobile suppliers that did business in Africa were supplying what those companies thought Africans needed.
In a quest to give Africa the technology that the continent preferred, Transsion adopted glocalization design philosophy based on the business ethos: the creation of products salable universally but customizable to specific markets or regions.
Through its first subsidiary, Techno, Transsion started supplying phones with more than one SIM to Africa by 2008, two years before Nokia that had long existed in Africa ever-figured it out. Africa is fraught with unique connectivity complexities; where more than one networks exist, performance varies in numerous locations yet most can’t afford two different phones.
Techno upped the bet with a camera it had exclusively developed for better exposure on darker skin tonesand was the first brand to offer a keyboard in Amharic, the Ethiopian native script. Swahili and Hausa keyboards later enriched the African lure.
Above everything else, sub-Sahara Africa has pitiable disposable income levels; an entry-level smartphone like Techno F1 (K49,000) translates to a person’s 69 percent of monthly income for 80 percent of the population (Mobile Network Trade Association, GSMA). For the rest, it amounts to three times what a person earns in a month.
Techno makes something for everybody in Africa; from basic feature phones (dumb MOS phones that use light-weight Opera browser to access Facebook and basic internet) to palm-full Android smartphones.
By 2012, Transsion had manufacturing facilities on the African soil, Ethiopia. If you have a Techno smartphone, chances are that it was assembled in the Horn of Africa country.
In 2013, Transsion bore another child, Infinix, a household name in Egypt. Without adhering to child-spacing tenets, another child was added unto the family in 2014, Itel and was adored by Zimbabweans.
According to figures from research company IDC, the three brands; Techno, Infinix and Itel together claimed about 50 percent of the African mobile market share in 2019 dethroning Samsung in the process.