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Smart phones disrupt flash disk market in Kenya

By Correspondent
At a computer shop in Kenya's capital Nairobi, a young woman picks small gadgets from a box one by one and wipes off dust.

It takes her close to 20 minutes to meticulously clean the over 200 flash disks that have stayed in the shop for several months.
Some of the memory sticks have been in the computer shop for over a year, and it is evident that they may not be going anytime soon despite drop in price.
At the shop, as many others across Nairobi, the cost of the gadgets start from as low as 3.4 U.S. dollars for 1 gigabyte (GB) memory stick, and 11 dollars for 4 GB device.
"We may be forced to give out these gadgets free of charge if we want them out of this shop because they are not moving at all," Gilbert Wandera, the owner of the store, said on Wednesday.
In the past, the flash disks were among the fastest moving computer accessories at the shop but demand has dropped over the years.
Wandera, who has been in the computer business for close to a decade, knows where the problem lies and there is little he can do about it. He blames his plight on smart phones, which have disrupted the market for the gadgets that were once a cash spinner.
Many young people in the East African nation have turned to the mobile phones to store data giving the flash disks a wide berth.
The smart phones come with bigger memory sticks which the tech- savvy Kenyans use to keep their data. Some of the mobile phones are sold with memory sticks of up to 10 GB, which is a huge capacity.
"If someone has a phone with such a big storage capacity, he may not be keen to buy flash disks. That is what has caused problems for traders," said Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solution in Nairobi.
The information technology professional explained that the 10 GB memory stick can store hundreds of songs, various documents, photos and even movies.
"With a smart phone, these files can be shared easily via blue tooth without the aid of a computer, which is not the case with flash disks that one has to connect to a computer," Mwaso said.
Also, through the smart phones, one can again easily read the files on the devices. "That is the convenience that is making flash disks become obsolete in Kenya. Young people do not want to touch them because smart phones offer better option," he said.
According to Kenya's biggest mobile phone service provider Safaricom, 67 percent of mobile phones sold in Kenya are smart phones. This translates to about 100,000 smart phones sold in the East African nation every month, one of the highest figures in sub Saharan Africa.
The high uptake of smart phones spells doom for the flash disk sellers like Wandera, who has stopped restocking the gadgets until he clears his earlier stock.
"It is now about a year since I used a flash disk. My smart phone is my computer and flash disk," said university student Vincent Odhiambo, who added high rate of data loss in flash disks is another reason people have dumped them.
Several manufacturers have introduced the flash disks in Kenya, including SanDisk, which launched 16 GB gadgets that go for 56 dollars last year, but faster growth of smart phones has not offered them good prospects.




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