MTN Uganda launches Android Smartphone


MTN Uganda, the largest mobile operator in the country, has signed up to offer the latest version of Huawei's Android-powered IDEOS smartphone, aiming to offer users access to high-speed Internet.
The Huawei IDEOS U8150 will retail at "rates that will allow even average users to take advantage of the 3G+ data network," according to the company.
In an interview, MTN Uganda Chief Executive Themba Khumalo said company's 3G network lets users make full use of the Internet, while most data networks in Uganda today do not allow mobile users to access popular sites and content streaming services.
"You will also find it hard to conduct content uploads, which limits capacity to share locally generated content with the rest of the world," Khumalo said.
In Uganda, more expensive smartphones like Blackberries, iPhones and certain Nokia brands have been a reserve of the rich and trendy.
Tie-ups such as the one between MTN and Huawei bring into focus the ongoing battle for market share among technology giants like Google, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple.
MTN's launch of the android phone comes three months after Safaricom, in partnership with Huawei, launched the U8220 model Android-powered mobile phone in Kenya.
Nokia sells the most mobile phone handsets in Africa but the recent launches point to growing competition.
The IDEOS U8150 handset was launched globally at the end of 2010 and is described by Huawei as a simple, affordable Android smartphone. It has a touchscreen display, high resolution screen, a 3.2 Mega pixel camera and supports functions such as voice dialing, voice navigation, social networking and the ability to run applications off the SD card.
"We are proud to be leading in this field not only because this is a Smartphone handset that will enable everyone to use our data services, but also because by introducing Android," Khumalo said. "We are giving Ugandans an opportunity to own and use a Smartphone and to harness the power of reliable, high speed internet services off MTN's 3G+ network."
Michael Niyitegeka, a lecturer of IT strategy and management at Makerere University said Android as a platform is growing globally and it is important for Africans to be able to contribute to this growth by developing appropriate applications and content to run on the operating system.
Niyitegeka said because Android is an open-source platform, the devices available on Android are also growing by the day, and this variety is very good for the developers.
"Once you have the content and apps that people can relate to - for example, we can have apps in local languages, then demand for devices with grow naturally," he said.

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