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Safaricom Scared! The Inside Scoop

It seems even giants can be rattled. Since Bharti/Zain welcomed the birth of Kenya's second republic with the lowest call charges across mobile networks, their counterparts on Waiyaki way (Safaricom) have been as busy as bees. I can now exclusively reveal through my inside sources the happenings at Safaricom these past three weeks, some of which are utterly shocking. 1. Shutting down the Facebook Page Even before Zain introduced their game changer tariffs, the official facebook page for Safaricom http://www.facebook.com/#!/SafaricomLtd?ref=ts was peppered with negative comments from users. After Zain's tariff launch however, it seems people went full time on #chukifm on the Safaricom facebook page, complaining on every single comment from Safaricom. Sample some posts from users below: "...as long as u guys stil continu stealin our credit usin ur unlimited internet shit,u suck in evrthn u do.actualy,u stink!"  "MASAA YA KUIBA...i want my 21 mb of free da

Why I will not be moving from Safaricom

For those who've been reading my blog you know that I have a love/hate relationship with Safaricom. One week I will lavish praise on them, the next I'll be trashing them. With such swinging passions, it is easy to find inspiration to write on them, and resultantly I do it often. This week I'm at it again, giving my 3 reasons why I'll be sticking with Big Green and ignore the Vuka to Zhairtel wave currently going on. 1. Data Services. Safaricom's recent press release responding to its competitors drop in voice call charges captured one thing right on the mark. They are no longer just a mobile telephone company, they are a total (communications) solutions company. Just like DoCoMo of Japan, Safaricom early on realized that voice services were not enough and their future lay in data/internet services on mobile phone handsets. They've gone ahead and backed this conviction with some serious investment in 3G, fibre, WiMax, and now 4G. Safaricom has not stopped a

Safaricom: King of Innovation

A detour from the constitutional debate. This week there has been a very public back and forth between Safaricom on one side and CCK, Yu, Zain, and Telkom on the other. The brouhaha is over a set of regulations published by CCK, which you can view here and here . Now, I'll be honest I tried reading the regulations but I got bored, but if I'm to believe the arguments of CCK and Safaricom then I'm going to give this one to Safaricom. Why lie Safaricom deserves to be market leader. Not only have they cranked out great product after great product, they've done this while keeping their business very profitable using the "just good enough formula". In case you have not read The Innovator's Solution , by Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor, then I'll explain. The just-good-enough formula means that a product need not be perfect to be marketable, it must only meet the minimum threshold of the job the consumer is trying to achieve. The clearest example

More goof-ups from Safaricom and the Great Zap Mystery

You'd be very surprised if you walked into a management meeting at Safaricom. The meeting's agenda on how management is devoting or planning to devote considerable resources in customer satisfaction would bewilder you. My overworked flys on the wall tell me that this is currenlty Safaricom's primary focus, customer satisfaction. Did I hear a gasp, or was that you masking "bull****" under your cough? Here in the real world, we still are trying to figure out how customer satisfaction by Safaricom is measured: is it getting a dial signal on the customer care number 100? Or perhaps it's finishing a conversation without spending thirty seconds saying "Hallo....hallo...can you hear me...hallo"? Maybe its spending less than 30 minutes queuing at a customer care centre? While we ponder on this, I'm afraid I have to bash Great Green once more on another major goof. This time the culprit is M-PESA agent application on service so bad it almost equals the

The Great Safaricom Bambanet Rip-off

I'm going to stop reading newspapers. If you live in Kenya, and see the daily headlines you'll understand why. It seems like day after day I am assaulted with ever more dire headlines. Either the editors of these newspapers have suddenly turned into sadists intent on breaking this country's spirit, or our spirit is already broken and we are living in a very sick, sick Kenya. Over the past weeks I have read about greedy retailers who crammed their tiny stores with goods but couldn't provide decent exits or fire prevention equipment; policemen who demanded bribes to allow highly dangerous petrol looting, arsonists-looters who decided 'if I can't have it, no one can', ministers of government who dished out food reserves and threatened the lives of millions through starvation, custodians of investors funds who used these funds as their personal piggy banks, examiners who put in doubt the academic qualifications of a generation of students, and the list goes on

Closet Zain Users and the Vuka Phenomenon

What are the three most common things you expect to find in a Kenyan's wallet? National ID ATM Card Cash (if it's between 28th of previous month and 5th of new month). I think that we can now add a fourth... a Zain sim card. The pink card from the Mombasa road fellows is now a must-have for any sophisticated mobile phone user (who probably are in the millions), even if it spendgs most time in the wallet. For too long we have watched the rapid release of products from Celtel/Zain with the frustration of a teacher having to severally repeat a point to a dunderhead student. Uhuru tariff, Pamoja tariff, 6pm-6am 3 bob tariff, Unlimited talk time tariff, have all been excellent products in their own right, but not good enough to get a mass exodus from green to pink. However things may now be changing with the new Vuka tariff . Vuka represents a brutal price war tactic on the part of Zain, intended to convert greens to pinks by making Zain the cheapest network to use, regardless o

Products I want to see from Safaricom, Zain, Orange

Ah, the uninhibited joy of wishful thinking. After Safaricom introduced Voice SMS - a product that I had dreamed of since I first used a mobile phone - I started thinking "hey, perhaps I can voice some of my other fanciful mobile phone product ideas, and someone may just take notice"? Well, here goes ... the following list are some of the next products I'd like to see from the trio of Safaricom, Zain and Orange. An SMS autoresponder. Everytime you get an SMS you can optionally send back a response like "Thanks for your SMS I'll get back to you", or "Sorry I'm not able to respond to your SMS right now but I'll do so as soon as I'm able" It would be quite useful, especially when your phone is off/out of reach/on divert. The ability to convert unused airtime back to cash (although I know this makes absolutely no financial sense to these companies, it would be really cool!) Free voicemail depositing. Mobile Number Porting, just let me use

Sokotele is DEAD!

A reliable fly on the wall says that this venture from Kencell/Celtel/Whatever is drawing its last breath. I guess they had it coming considering the business model they took.  One of my favourite business books "An Innovator's Solution" says that the key to successful products is to find out what job consumers are trying to get done, and develop a product that gets that job done. Hate them or love them, thats what M-PESA did, and what Sokotele failed to do, and now they will be punished for it. I believe Sokoteles biggest mistake was tying-in the service to K-Rep (although I hear that this was because the service was actually a K-Rep idea!), and making the service simply about money transfer instead of the more job-I'm-trying-to-get-done 'liquid money storage' service that M-PESA is. Oh well, lets see if a rejuvenated Telkom can create some waves with their own moribund money-transfer service (any body know what its called) under an Orange brand.