Free smartphone offer 'won't compromise your data'

Retailer Big Save is giving free smartphones with a hamper. (Supplied)
Retailer Big Save is giving free smartphones with a hamper. (Supplied)

Cape Town - User information will be kept safe, promises a retailer which is giving away smartphones as part of a drive to change the mobile business model.

Retail chain Big Save is giving away free smartphones as part of its programme to disrupt the South African mobile market, and has promised that customers should not be concerned that it will sell user information.

"We ask for the customers' permission to record their data, but we do not use it for any purposes other than to track interaction on the phone. We do not sell the customers' data," project director Daryl Peel told Fin24.

Data theft hit the headlines recently, with the revelation that up to 50 million South Africans could have had sensitive information stolen in a massive breach.

The database contained details such as gender, ethnicity, contact information and identity numbers.

R850 for food hamper plus phone

The breach, if it results from a local company, would be a violation of the Protection of Personal Information Act.

In order to get the phone which is not linked to a contract or mobile contract, customers have to buy a grocery hamper from Big Save to the value of R850.

The hamper contains staples such as pap, spaghetti, macaroni and bread flour. The customer also receives a mid-range smartphone as part of the package.

The programme follows a similar initiative from FNB to migrate customers to its FNB network and branded ConeXis smartphone.

Early results indicate that the programme is finding traction.

"Daryl and the team have already rolled out a number of hampers for the last two weeks, and more this weekend, and we have noticed the positive response from the consumer as the word is going around about how cool it is to receive a smartphone with all the nice goodies," said Tony Ferreira, operations director for Big Save.

"This weekend past, the second of our ongoing promotions was done in Rustenburg where we are driving smartphone adoption through a free phone offering. And we are doing this with some serious hardware rather than some asthmatic, underpowered and small mobile phone," said Peel.

The smartphone is from South American company Azumi-Mobile, and features a 1.3GHz quad core processor, 8GB of memory on board, 8 megapixel main camera and dual SIM capability.

Plans to expand into Cape region

While the device is somewhat lower spec than the flagship Azumi IRO A6Q model, the handsets are aimed at people on feature phones who would not qualify for or be unable to afford top end smartphones on mobile contracts.

As Big Save is based mainly in Gauteng, Peel hinted at expansion plans for the programme.

"This weekend in Rustenburg saw our business grow by 320% week-on-week, and it is poised to continue that high growth trajectory for this weekend coming as we start our expansion into the Cape Town region.

"The greater Tshwane region is looking good for launch in the month ahead, too, which is perfect timing if we wish to ensure as many families as possible can now start sharing their festive celebrations with distant relatives on social platforms that they have up until now, been excluded from participating on."

Peel said they are intent on disrupting the traditional mobile business model in SA, which is dominated by mobile operators.

"Week on week, month on month, we will chip away at what has been a largely socially dividing industry controlled by and large by the big retail groups as well as the mobile networks, and with it bring about radical change to a stale business model."

According to data from The International Data Corporation (IDC), the trend has been lower-priced smartphones driving market adoption, especially in Africa, for years.

Global growth

In 2015, the IDC highlighted the growth of devices priced below $200 driving growth in developing countries.

"The smartphone growth will come from the low-priced smartphones (ie under $150). The shift towards low price range smartphones is as a result of shrinking disposable income as the economy slows down," IDC SA research analyst Joseph Hlongwane told Fin24 at the time.

"Given our experience, we can say that the current sweet spot in terms of price and target market is the lower LSM, priced between R499 to R699," Michelle Moolman, ZTE SA Terminal sales director, told Fin24 recently.

In the second quarter of 2017, Samsung continued its domination of the global smartphone market (23.3% market share), according to IDC data, but the best growth was from Xiaomi (58%) which traditionally prices its devices at the mid to lower segment.

Here's the IDC table

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