Executive Briefings

Google to Manufacture Smartphone in Africa

A Johannesburg startup is set to become the first company ever to manufacture smartphones in Africa, taking advantage of low costs and growing local demand to build handsets, tablets and other devices based on Google Inc.'s Android system.

Google to Manufacture Smartphone in Africa

Onyx Connect, a privately backed company that's raised 150m rand ($10.8m), will begin production in the first quarter, according to Andre Van der Merwe, its sales director. The company is licensed to load Google software like Android and Chrome onto devices sold under its own brand or products it makes for others.

“We are talking to companies to manufacture handsets, laptops and possibly Android TV boxes,” Van der Merwe said in an interview. Those talks include Google itself and Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd., the South African unit of Vodafone Group Plc, he said.

Vodacom would “welcome the opportunity” to offer high-quality devices made in South Africa, Jorge Mendes, a Vodacom consumer sales and distribution executive, said in an e-mail, declining to comment on Onyx specifically.

For Google, local production would stoke a sales push in Africa, one of the few regions where it isn’t the outright browser leader. The Alphabet Inc. unit trails Opera, which accounted for 39 percent of web traffic in September on the continent, versus 32 percent for Google Chrome, according to StatCounter Global Stats. In addition to software Google makes devices like Chromecast media players and Chromebook Pixel laptops.

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Onyx Connect, a privately backed company that's raised 150m rand ($10.8m), will begin production in the first quarter, according to Andre Van der Merwe, its sales director. The company is licensed to load Google software like Android and Chrome onto devices sold under its own brand or products it makes for others.

“We are talking to companies to manufacture handsets, laptops and possibly Android TV boxes,” Van der Merwe said in an interview. Those talks include Google itself and Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd., the South African unit of Vodafone Group Plc, he said.

Vodacom would “welcome the opportunity” to offer high-quality devices made in South Africa, Jorge Mendes, a Vodacom consumer sales and distribution executive, said in an e-mail, declining to comment on Onyx specifically.

For Google, local production would stoke a sales push in Africa, one of the few regions where it isn’t the outright browser leader. The Alphabet Inc. unit trails Opera, which accounted for 39 percent of web traffic in September on the continent, versus 32 percent for Google Chrome, according to StatCounter Global Stats. In addition to software Google makes devices like Chromecast media players and Chromebook Pixel laptops.

Read Full Article

Google to Manufacture Smartphone in Africa