The Big Box and Why Safaricom should STOP doing Devices

Reports carried in today’s Dailies state that Safaricom has slashed the price of the Big Box by 50%. The move is meant to increase interest and increase uptake but I am not sure there will be much achieved to this end with only 1,500 of them sold. The Big Box has been plagued by a melee of technical challenges, a move that forced to rest our own set.

This brings me to the conclusion that Safaricom needs to quit doing devices, if they wont do them well.
Since ideos, there has not been a device launched by the telco worth mentioning. The ideos was hugely popular as it offered users an entry level device away from feature phones. Users have since outgrown such entry-level devices and are seeking devices with stronger capabilities. Some quarters report that the Safaricom Neon has been widely popular but to say the least, its a badly done devices with weak features and no unique capabilities. The same can be said for the Big Box. A unique, noble idea with a feint finish.

Giving up is not the best move. They need to take their time and invest in resources that make others develop good products. One way of achieving this would be to work with a partner already providing such services successfully in other markets and getting a white label that’s customized for this market. Or they acquire a small player that is doing it right like they did with Mledger app. With this Able Wireless comes to mind.

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I disagree.

One device does not a product line make. I’m glad that they took the plunge into the TV space. It’s not a space they have been in before or dominated. They are making forays into new territory and there is a lot for them to learn. This delivery method is fairly unique to this part of the world. Their competitors are dependent on the rollout of fibre/coaxial services to residential areas. I don’t think I’ve seen a digital decoder/modem combo before.

Having people consume content on larger screens pushes said people to purchase larger bundles. Since the largets screen in most homes is the television set, It certainly makes sense that they would focus on this segment.

Telco partners especially handset manufacturers often drive the devices that the telco ultimately offers to the consumer. Ideos was a huawei product which was piloted successfully. The uptake is why we have such a large number of entry level smart phones in the sub $100 entry price and its getting lower every day.

So let them fail. May they fail fast and often, emerging each time with a better, more responsive product.

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What they currently have in the market, selling at half the original cost, is that a new product or the same one?

Its the same product selling at half the price

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Safaricom need to stop selling devices,they should focus on their core business,focus on network infrastructure,fasttracking 4G and 3G and innovating new products and services.I thought the vumaonline product had a lot of potential.They should also look into deploying citywide wifi and get into the ISP space,they have the infrastructure and they just need to work out the business model and execute faster.Otherwise they will become a utility company at the current rate

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I think their neon devices are quite good for enabling Kenyans to switch to smartphones. 2000/= and 2000 bonga points si mbaya


Interesting discussion…I can talk about this area all day. Anyway there is a very strategic reason why Telcos want to influence what phones their subscribers use, to maximize on revenue from data. To do this telcos have invested heavily in the terminals that are sold in their operating market. In Kenya for example, devices sold directly by Safaricom account for 20 to 30% of all devices sold in the country. With a market share of around 70%, Safaricom knows that for every 10 phones sold in the country, 7 will end up with a Safaricom SIM card. To make this penetration faster, Safaricom works with OEMs to customize and subsidize devices to lower the entry level price points (examples include Huawei, Neon etc). With this a telco is sure that their 3G/4G network is fully utilized hence realize the benefit from investing in the rollout. By the way without the intervention of telcos OEMs will not have any incentive to reduce device prices. Globally, T-Mobile uses this strategy effectively, same to AT&T and Verizon.


So Safaricom Big box second version has been mentioned in same sentences with Showmax, and that it’s coming soon. How soon could be in a few days or a few months. Whether UX will be something from 2016 or 2011 is something to wait and see.

The Big box is an epic fail of a product right now…the concept was great but the data caps and the pricing tiers were very unreasonable/unaffordable…they had an epic chance to create and take over a huge marketshare chunk…if they dont change strategy it might be too late for them to make the most out of it

The big box is a failed product u could predict this from the onset wat safaricom dint realize is Kenya is a price sensitive Market guys would evaluate the monthly data cost and the cost of fiber lets say zuku is way much cheaper and trust me if zuku fiber is rolled out countrywide the big box will go to grave coz safaricom network isn’t stable too

I bought the damn box for one reason only, backup for my main internet line when Zuku decides to misbehave. Then I found a second use, and have never looked back. I loaded KODI which to be honest struggles a lot, but I got a dedicated IPTV provider, loaded an APK, paid around 1,500 a month and I stream everything. I use Zuku with ethernet cable. I might get the next BigBox if its CPU is powerful. (The IPTV guy has posted on OLX)

Interesting, I have used the Remix mini for sometime now, for this purpose. I got Showmax 3 month free and you bet I’m utilizing it. There is other video portals I use as well to stream much later content. But for the Kshs 5000 the Remix was selling at, it’s worth it. Much better than an Android box, as it has a desktop. But unfortunately I left it in use by some kids at my place and it sort of bricked.

There was this update I have always held back on, because it would remove the Google Play application and all it stands for. I think that’s what happened while I was away, someone clicked on the update when the notification came, and the process needed a keyboard to be completed. That’s the last time I ever used it. Now I use the laptop when I want to stream.

If you are reading and are thinking of getting the Safaricom box (the new one)… Don’t… It’s an absolute attrocity. The thing won’t even run Netflix (apparently it isn’t compatible)…even though it claims to run Android 7.0. If you own a UHD TV , you’ll hate it, the resolution is shit. Chrome cast doesn’t even work. In short, it’s a waste of money. I was lured in by the 5999 price point for Safaricom Fibre users and I swear I would rather have bought a bottle of whiskey. I plan on going back there tomorrow and hope they have a return policy on this piece of garbage. Fingers crossed. If they don’t, I now own a paper weight worth 6000 bob.


thanks for the heads up was planning on getting me one.

This is much needed information, seeing that they gave it another name and didn’t exactly launch. So visibility was low for a start, then we didn’t quite pick up its attention.

seems like there is an individual within safaricom management who still thinks running things like Apple is good business… if you are not Apple forget it. They launch Songa, and then restrict it to safaricom for downloads… when people lose interest thats when its released for everyone. they release the big box and all essential apps people love cannot run… because they want people to subscribe to shitty naspers streaming app. They launch ecommerce website, and customer service is just shitty… I think they should just stick to what carriers actually do.


This is what they did with Mpesa app. They later opened it up for use by other ISPs.

Good luck. Hopefully hutaambiwa you dropped it in water.

Came across this review of the new bigbox and remembered this post. Good for a different opinion. The reviewer seems to have had a different experience and didn’t run into any of the issues you had and ended up recommending it for the price.

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I like his review… It made me like the 2nd gen big box. Am considering buying it now :relieved: