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Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa

The Apple iPod rides on the coattails of pricier siblings the MacBook and the iPhone to gain presence in no less than 15 Apple Stores (and numerous resellers, of course) in Botswana, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, and South Africa. That is less than one-third of the 53 countries in the continent but about the same number of entry points as in other developing regions of the world, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia-Pacific (Apple Inc., 2009). One may well ask, what are the culture-bound opportunities and hurdles Apple leverage to market the iPod in Africa?

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The iPod in Africa
Figure 1. The iPod in Africa

Price and personalized music are the core drivers of the iPod business. Unlike notebook computers and top-tier mobile phones, the iPod and other portable MP3 players are so affordable, they are capable of penetrating the middle class in virtually any global market. And, as the picture of the pedestrian in a Soweto (South Africa) shopping mall illustrates, African adolescents and young adults presumably like to personalize their music playlists as much as those in New York or London do, to the point of poking fun at themselves.

In Africa as elsewhere, reports distributor for developing markets Micro Conseil International, Apple a) achieved an instant cachet for its MP3 player entry with the indubitable prestige of the brand name; and b) ensured a robust revenue stream by integrating the complete package: the iPod hardware, the iTunes software given away to anyone who asked for it, and the co-distributing music content from third parties via its (online) iTunes stores (Balancing Act, 2007).

Sub-Saharan Africa today remains amid a catastrophic AIDS pandemic. Along with grinding poverty and sporadic famine, this is the face of Africa that lingers most in the public mind everywhere. Trying to stem the tide, it is not enough that conscience-stricken opinion leaders in Africa pressure the global pharmaceutical combines to make the prices of their HIV palliative drugs more affordable. Funds are needed for the care of those already incapacitated or orphans left behind by parents who have both succumbed to the illness. Perhaps the most high-profile attempt to tailor iPod marketing to the ghastly realities of the health pandemics has therefore been participation in the celebrity-endorsed campaign to buy RED-branded mobile phones, iPods, GAP clothing, an American Express Credit Card line extension, Converse sneakers, Hallmark cards, and a Dell computer. In the case of the iPod RED, the $5 of each purchase that goes to donations for African HIV funds may not seem like much but when pooled, the RED-branded consumer products as a group managed to donate around $57 million, eleven times what the private sector had ever managed to come up with in any single year to combat AIDS in Africa (Wroe, n.d.). And of course, publicizing such well-meaning efforts in international media gives the iPod and other discretionary consumer goods tremendous goodwill amongst African opinion leaders and consumer elites.

In sum, this concededly very brief review suggests that the entertainment, brand cachet, music playlist personalization, and comparatively affordable price points of the iPod are consumer benefits that cross national and cultural boundaries fairly easily and hence, support market entry in Africa for this hugely successful Apple product. As well, Apple, Motorola, and other market-leading brands have turned the problem of AIDS into a marketing platform that doubtless strikes a responsive chord with Africans.

Bibliography

  1. Apple Inc. (2009) Choose your country and region. [Internet] Web.
  2. Balancing Act (2006) Apple makes a comeback in Africa with the halo effect of the iPod. [Internet], Issue 287.
  3. Wroe, M. (n.d.) Buy an iPod: save a life. [Internet], Developments magazine.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 25). Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/across-the-cultural-and-digital-divides-the-ipod-in-africa/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 25). Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa. https://studycorgi.com/across-the-cultural-and-digital-divides-the-ipod-in-africa/

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"Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa." StudyCorgi, 25 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/across-the-cultural-and-digital-divides-the-ipod-in-africa/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa." November 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/across-the-cultural-and-digital-divides-the-ipod-in-africa/.


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StudyCorgi. "Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa." November 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/across-the-cultural-and-digital-divides-the-ipod-in-africa/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa." November 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/across-the-cultural-and-digital-divides-the-ipod-in-africa/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Across the Cultural and Digital Divides: The iPod in Africa'. 25 November.

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