14.05.2010

Gadgetry in Kazakhstan

By Eric KINZHALIN

2010 05 14According to Wikipedian article, gadget is some rather small technical mean that executes one or a number of secondary but useful functions. In fine, your favourite back hatchel couldn’t be considered as a gadget since it has no moving parts. A sofa and television are too couldn’t be gadgets because of their sizes, although making you life more pleasant. Sadly to relate, but dear-to-heart coffee machine is also doesn’t fit in the concept – drinking coffee is harming. At the end, even your mobile phone is not a gadget, only if it is latest model of Apple Google Smartbook 6G Neo. Mobiles are too needed, too involved in life of modern men. It comes out that life of an average person is not depending on gadgets, although they are buzz words. So what is it behind this word with French roots? There is another word – fashion.

That’s because gadgets are not fulfilling any vital functions in human life; those are toys in hands of those who want to be rumoured as advanced and stylish; an option to demonstrate wellbeing and to be on the sharp side of newest technologies. And a perfect way to make money on this for makers of these means. The simplest example of gadget is popular player iPod, which for the very first year of its existence seized more than a half of worldwide sales and been sold over 300 millions of copies all over the world. However, is iPod became bestseller thanks to its functionality and technical advantages over competing products? No. This player is not dramatically handy, fragile, discharges quickly and “thinks” for too long; and, what’s more annoying, is constantly requiring additional payments for various services and music downloads. But thanks to subtle developed “hysteria marketing” strategy, started by its company maker, Apple, the name of this device rapidly became common. Just remember how many times recently you heard “audioplayer” word? And iPod?

Official iPod has been revealed on Kazakhstani market in 2008, when Apple official distributor came across here. But curiously enough, it hasn’t gained any special popularity here. The business is not in the reason that listening to music through headphones isn’t popular in Kazakhstan – quite the reverse. And not in a huge price gap between our market compared to abroad ones and even with Russian; and not even in the fact that the niche is too small. To my mind, the main thing affecting sales here is rather weak advertisement and marketing activities on the part of local sellers. The same can be said about many other gadgets. Many could argue with this, bringing hypocrites-cooked “practical consuming mentality of Kazakhs” as an argument, which in essence is no more than consuming obscurantism. The core of the problem is that nobody is trying to explain properly the selling point of their goods to customers. At that, WOW-factor (I would call it a magpie effect) is working perfectly on our market – at least remembering the smartphone boom, which is lasting constantly on our market for almost as long as ten years, from the moment of Nokia 9210 revelation. The youth then, as it is now, were buying fashionable communicators for tow or three monthly salaries living in hunger – money playing its role in fashion, but non major.

The other problem is lack of infrastructure – specialized sales and service centers, official dealers, informational support etc. For instance, the most popular purchase these days among aforementioned smartphones is Apple iPhone 3G. This is very useful device, allowing calling, checking e-mails, surfing the web and listening to music. iPhones are imported in Kazakhstan in railcars from United Emirates, Russia and China. It is grey import. Apple official dealer in Kazakhstan has exclusive rights to sell all the company products, except for telephones. From one side, Apple couldn’t realize that declining a given piece of market pie in Kazakhstan is stupid. From the other side, an implementation of any high-tech project on any market is always an expensive thing to do, but local market potential is unappreciable compared to Russian, not to speak of global. Consequently, promoting its phones here for American company is the same thing here as for a person to try to contract with microbes. Black berry smartphones from Canadian company RIM are too in persistent requisition on gray market, but there is no Kazakhstan in the list of countries on company’s official website, but instead there are Cameroon anв Cape Verde. Not to mention the most recent novelty of the season – radical and dreadful Nexus One communicator, which is been predicted with great future on both sides of the ocean. I doubt that anybody in communicators distributing division has ever heard of Kazakhstan.

One of the major global gadgetry tendencies, which is almost completely avoiding Kazakhstan, worth a special mention – those are electronic books. Useful pads such as Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad, which libraries contain thousands of books and especially ones helpful to students, are completely useless here because of absence of localisation. There are very few books on Russian, not to mention Kazakh. Meanwhile, these useful devices are helpful in finding and reading new books, at that saving housing space. Which can’t be said about compact DVD and HD players, which are, with all their seeming functionality, are rarely leaving apartments, quickly tiring eyes, and because of that are representing rather pointless replacement for full-scale television set.

Another nail in Kazakhstani high-tech market is hammered by sellers themselves, whether they are official or not. Gadgets are being sold here literally as new potatoes on marketplace – you came, you paid a lot of money, you gone. Naturally, with such “advanced” sales technologies newest toys are beyond means of many. It is clear enough that trade has been formed historically that way, however… In Europe aforementioned Blackberries are sold times better than more useful iPhone, despite comparable prices. The thing is in sales technologies – buyer get hand on a phone for free, but has to pay 50 Euro per month for whole year. End price obviously will be higher, but it’s not a bank loan, and some student with small monthly ration can afford such useful thing without onerous obligations. But lending programs for such equipment here have gone nowhere shortly, because at present interest rates even complete idiot can understand price difference between a loan and direct buying.

There is another misfortune with gadgets market – lack of accessories. Suppose you are willing to buy a special bandage for morning runs with fashionable player, or a new case for your communicator, or even a battery for grey imported iPhone. And you’ll be unhappily surprised – it is either non on the market or it costs ransom price. You can, however, order anything by yourself through internet auctions, but a few are going on such risks, because there are no reliable protection mechanisms for transferring money in Kazakhstan.

However, players and smartphones, although on the leaps, are not everything from which gadgets market consists of: sophisticated radio, laptops, watches with additional functions, electronic books, game consoles, USB-toys and even robots. And something called weather sensors. The meaning of latter is measuring temperature, moisture, atmospheric pressure and even weather prediction with help of various probes and built-in barometer. As against Kazgidrometeocenter staff, which are consuming tea and gnawing pencils in agonizing attempts to pint finger in the skies and prophet Divine plans, the accuracy of such devices nowadays is not less than 75%. Other picking up stream gadget market segment are satellite navigation devices. Despite that major players of global market yet have not developed official map packages for Kazakhstan, local topographers are managed to get shots of huge pieces of our land, thankfully for many Kazakhstani automotive travelers, which are now couldn’t imagine life without satellite navigation.

Despite the significant sizes, notebooks (or laptops) are too considered as gadgets. A delusion arises that Kazakhstani market is flooded with these compact computers, but practically business here is not much better than it is with other gadgets. You can buy a notebook within 60-70 grand tenge limit, but it will be only useful for typing purposes. A solid model will cost a fortune – from 1500 USD and more; at that it will be out of date from official sellers. It is almost impossible to find a decent multimedia laptop, which can replace home PC. But the main factor here is price; more accurately, it’s unfairness – a model which costs $1000 on Amazon online shop will cost twice or more here.

A huge piece of market pie was taken by Chinese with their phenomenal ability to instantly create any kinds of fakes of newest gadgets. You want iPhone for cost of minimum wage – you get it. It wouldn’t have access to services, useful Safari browser and friendly interface, and it will fall apart after a month. But it will be precisely the same looks and shape of a true one, and you could show off in front of some rural girls. This is great. But there is one slight problem – a person who follows a simple living rule “do not create yourself problems” would hardly buy such a thing. Gadgets are supposed to ease up your life, not to make it harder. For that reason The Celestial Empire, no matter in which way would you put it, yet is not competitor to quality products, which cost millions to develop.

So, gadgetry market in Kazakhstan is poorly structuralized; mainly for the reason that the lion’s share of the market is grey. And if one would wish to make marketing research to find out its capacity, he will meet at least fail, and wrong data as the main threat. It’ll take years of hard work to improve the situation from all the sides, aimed on all-round development of the market. Furthermore we didn’t mention a correct government policy in imports sector, without which a solid market is impossible. But it is different and very sad topic.

6 comments

  1. Anonymous

    И здесь у нас оказываетцо тоже все через большую Ж...

  2. Anonymous

    Про ноутбуки — у нас они стоят так же как и в европе. На амазоне может и дешевле, но надо учитывать риски. В каком состоянии он придет из америки? Жадный платит 2 раза. Идите и выберите в магазине любой понравившийся ноутбук, еще гарантию на 1-3 года дадут. Статья из области «хорошо там где нас нет»

  3. Anonymous

    Yeah, that's true. I've been working in Kazakhstan for two years and wanted to buy myself an Ipod. The prices were shoking — twice the price of what in Europe (can't remember what was it exactly though). I thought London is expensive city. Can't believe that taxation and customs fees could jump prices on that level. Interest rates on electronics in Kz are immense.

  4. Вы допускаете ошибку. Могу это доказать. Пишите мне в PM, поговорим.

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