Can Apple be successful in Africa?
With the advent of sleek iPod touch MP3 players, Apple became one of the most successful companies in the world.
It seems the bigger reputation it gets, the more questions about its future have been raised. Its gadgets are gaining popularity in a growing number of countries.
However, with a potential for success in Africa, people start to look into the highly controversial issue: Can Apple be successful on the continent?
Amid heated debate about the issue, some people argue that there is little possibility for the company to repeat its success story in Africa.
Others believe that it will be a great hit as a result of its competitive edge such as attractive design, international brand power, various applications and so on.
However, given the dire situation in Africa, some experts tend to be leaning toward predicting failure. Since there is a limited number of affluent people in Africa, it is likely to fail because the huge investment on basic infra-structure including building shops and fundamental instruments would outweigh the benefit from it.
First of all, it is too expensive to dominate the market practically. Even in developed or developing countries, there are many people who cannot afford to buy the Apple products because of their high price.
According to news articles, GDP in each African nation is not more than $250 billion, which is less than 2 percent of that of the United States. Moreover, a few wealthy and powerful people account for most of the wealth in African nations.
In fact, most of African people have difficulty in buying daily necessities.
Its price is still burdensome for people even in developed nations, to say nothing of those Africans. Moreover, the costs for additional functions with it will weigh heavily upon their mind.
Second, due to a lack of opportunities to experience high technology culture, the Africans would have trouble in adapting to such high-end products.
The company may come to grips with serious problems appealing to the public, who have less proximity to these kinds of products.
As we see them in most videos and pictures, there are many people who still stick to maintain their native lifestyles.
According to Wikipedia, from a society made up of hunter-gatherer native tribes, about 70 percent of people in Africa live a primitive lifestyle. So it would be difficult for Africans to embrace different cultural products, as we learn in historical events that people were reluctant to change their lifestyles.
Third, because of a poor network system to download music and diverse applications, they have a certain limit in access to fundamental constructions, not only Internet lines but also banking institutes. They need to build up enough financial establishments to settle accounts for buying various files. For example, when I used iTunes in Africa to download a map application during volunteer work, it took much longer to use, because of the poor condition of the Internet service. This inferior condition would prevent the company from being successful on the continent.
Last, but not least, insufficient manpower in shops and all sorts of service centers will pose another problem for the company to achieve its goal.
It seems true that the company can solve this problem easily by educating Africans. However, it doesn’t sound economical as it costs a lot from finding proper people to teach them about items including various functions and even how to operate the shops.
Thus, although Apple invests tremendous money on offering basic foundations and giving them an opportunity to be familiar with new cultures, the difficulty in getting the right human resources will remain.
From leisure facilities to education for children, the environment is far inferior to other countries.
In addition, African nations are dangerous and the security for the maintenance of the company may not be guaranteed. For these reasons, this problem may not be as simple as the public think.
Despite its competitiveness, considered as a symbol of a brilliant idea in enterprise, the business would face many difficulties such as high price, ignorance about high technological cultures, lack of infrastructure, and deficiency of employees.
Unless the company invests a large amount of money on setting up both fundamental structures and human resources to manage the stores and other centers, it has no choice but to give up on hope for success in Africa.
Then should we abandon the expansion to Africa? The answer is “No,” because of its great potential as a gigantic market with tremendous population, resources and land.
This is why we had better keep our eyes on the possibility of the continent.
Notwithstanding major trouble in reality, its great potential is too significant to be ignored. Therefore, greater efforts to make inroads there should be made.
Kim Seung-gab is a freshman studying at Dongin High School in Busan, the largest port city in Korea.