iPhone Tech News

How many iPhones are there in South Africa

There have been a couple of questions floating around on Twitter about how many iPhone devices there are in South Africa. The numbers have ranged from around 30,000 to a crazy 170,000. So I took the liberty of asking the Vodacom CEO, Pieter Uys, on Twitter, how many Vodacom had sold.Vodacom are the official carriers of iPhones in South Africa, so every single South African iPhone should have been purchased through them, whether it was on contract or once-off purchase. Yes, the are a probably a few other “imported” iPhones as well, but those can’t be that high.

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Pieter then kindly responded with this.

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The tweet actually followed up with a DM asking me for my cell number, and Pieter phoned me to chat about this, and tech stuff in general !! What a super #BrandPLUS !!!

This means that around 90,000 iPhones have “officially” been sold in South Africa.

Then I had a look at these admob stats that were released earlier this week – In the report, the mention that South Africa admob stats for April were as follows: (thanks to Amabacha for the heads up and image below)

What the above image means is that only 35,674 of the 90,000 devices in South Africa have used or seen Admob stats which are included in the majority of mobile web pages as well as in iPhone apps. This equates to around 40% of all South African iPhones encountered a admob ad in April.

I also had a chat to the guys who run the News24 iPhone app. According to them, they have about 20,000 “active” users of the app. The News24 iPhone app is probably the most “prolific” iPhone app in South Africa, which most people would have installed, if the understood the app model. (my personal opinion)

So, what does all of the above mean. Well, what it looks like, is that, in South Africa, people are buying iPhones. Not as much as Blackberry’s, but they are buying them. BUT, they NOT using them to their full capabilities. They not using it for web browsing, and they not downloading apps. They using them for Phone calls & SMS’s and maybe to read email. A large part of this I think is “user education”, with people buying the phone and not understanding the full capabilities, but rather, just to have a “cool” phone. (Yes, it IS cool)

We need to teach people to “understand” the phone. We need them to be able to not only use it for phone calls & sms’s and make them realise that there is a whole other world out there :) How, you ask ? That part, I’m not to sure about :( But, as per my post yesterday, I have setup a site called iPhone Help, which will allow people to hopefully ask questions and get answers about the iPhone. A place where people can share tips and tricks, and help the people who don’t understand the phones capabilites, understand it better.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below if you have any ideas on how we can help our fellow iPhone friends :)

16 replies on “How many iPhones are there in South Africa”

I imported 2 prior to the Vodacom launch… I think you will find that the number of non-Vodacom-sourced iPhones are actually a little more than immaterial, especially since there are a significant number of MTN users who know how terrible the number porting experience is!

Thanks for the comment Mac ;)

Yip, but a lot of the MTN users have bought the “prepaid” version of the iPhone, from Vodacom, as the phone is network unlocked. Agreed, there are a lot of the “imported” phones, but that would still skew the number higher then of the people not using the phone to it’s full capabilities.

It might be of interest to compare iPhone and Blackberry sales on the South African consumer-to-consumer trading platform, bidorbuy: during the week ending 4 June, 33 iPhones were sold on the site, as compared with 64 Blackberrys. Those numbers are rather in the iPhone’s favour if one takes into consideration the price factor.

Hey Marc

After our chat yesterday and retweeting Pieter Uys’ reply on the number of iPhones sold by Vodacom , Tomi Ahonen (a highly respected mobile author consultant and analysit) replied with this >

Suddenly iPhone sales seem pale in comparison to Blackberry sales in South Africa!

Check out his excellent blog “Communities Dominate Brands”. His posts are lengthy but well worth getting a cup of coffee and working your way through some of the excellent analysis on there.

In particular his recent ‘Smartphone Bloodbath after Q1’ post discusses iPhone and Blackberry in great detail and mentioned Vodacom’s 1m Blackberrys sold in SA >

Hi Marc
do you know if that 90000 include iPhones sold via the istores around the country? Are they actually vodacom stock?

With Vodacom being the official carrier for iPhone, all stock has to go through them. So if you are buying through the iStore it also “goes through” Vodacom.

Cool. Now to think about your original question. I have a few friends who only use theirs as dumbphones too…

I believe right now that there is a lack of local applications dedicated to the South African market, therefore not getting users to interact with their phones. Internet usage is one thing, but these phones are namely about the applications that are available and it is these applications that are built to use the phones capabilities…

Great article, and good research. Any updates on these figures? SInce you wrote, the iPhone 4 came out – did that have a big impact?

I am very interested in knowing how many iPhones, iPads and Android phones are officially in the SA market?. Also knowing how many of those users make any use of apps etc. The info above is really useful but the stats are really out of date.

What I would like to know, leading a little off the topic but still related, is why South Africa cannot receive a large portion of the international iPhone/iPad app market. I was hunting around the Apple forums as to why this issue has been around since I remember and no progress was being made. Alas, there are some good points being raised, but none of them justify iPhone and iPad users not being able to download all apps offered. South Afirca has appeared to be secluded from the market due to its “small” market size. I still find this strange. I was informed by Apple app developers locally and internationally that there is not a South African section to sell applications.

Marc with your contacts and your knowledge, what I would really like to know is why South Africa is not being allowed to get the full app experience from Apple. And if the reasons are for legislative reasons (Which I dont believe because Android are releasing unavailable Apple apps to their users) then why is Vodacom as the official iPhone distributor not intervening to give their users and market a broader app experience.

I feel I am being forced to Jailbrake (Crack) my iPhone and steal applications just to get fair access to the rest of the world.

Can you help?

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