I met Saheed Adepoju again at the recent Mobile Web West Africa conference held in Lagos, Nigeria. Saheed Adepoju is the co-founder of Encipher Group, the creators of the "Inye". He spoke passionately about the "Inye" for five minutes at the Open Mic session. He had quipped that the "Inye" was truly the first tablet in Nigeria; before the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab (which is being promoted with a 1 year free data contract from Etisalat Nigeria); the Apple Ipad; the Starcomms Mypad. I first met Saheed Adepoju when he joined Chamsswitch Limited while I was there as the CEO some months ago. I got him to talk about the "Inye". See below for the excerpts of the interview.
What is the "Inye" and its history?
INYE was born out of a need to have a hardware to test android based applications. At the time, smartphones being alot expensive we decided to find an OEM partner to aid with the development of a prototype. The prototype ran Android 1.6 and had 1GB Nand flash. Following that we changed some of the specifications to include a faster processor and more storage. We currently have in the market 4GB Nand flash storage and it runs Android 2.1.
How did you position the "Inye" with its competitors? e.g. segment, price, ruggedness
Initially we positioned it as another tablet PC to go against the current guys in the market but we were quick to realize that we required a decisive plan to separate us from the pack. Back in April 2010, this was a relatively new terrain so luckily following advice from various mentors, we settled on a localization plan. Hence our mission is to express and preserve our culture using technology.
Social media is a key growing trend within the Nigerian populace. Encipher INYE appeals to this segment of people who want to have their social experience mobile.
Another early segment we found back when we launched was the corporate end. The Android OS is a freely available operating system which also allows software developers to build solutions for other types of businesses.
I heard you were recently nominated for an award? What is it all about?
Yes. I was nominated for The Future awards Nigeria category for "Best use of Technology". Further information about The Future Awards can be found here: http://www.thefuturenigeria.com/the-future-project/whatistfn/
Are we expecting any other products from the stables of "The Encipher Group"?
YES!!!!. We currently working on EncipherTV. EncipherTV is a combination of hardware and software services. Services will involve a video-on-demand portal which will provide relevant local content programming all delivered over the internet. We are currently talking with various organizations to aid in building contents which they can monetize from. As an example, we discussing with TechLoy who envisions doing a weekly talk show about the various trends within information technology in Nigeria. We are working on bundling this as a service for corporate organizations in Nigeria who want to learn what is going on in the ICT industry. The organizations purchase the EncipherTV setup box and pay a monthly premium access fee which is managed by Encipher. At the moment, the video of demand is online. This is powered by our Cloud Computing infrastructure courtesy of Amazon Web Services.
We also working on a second iteration of the INYE tablet dubbed "INYE-2". We will release subsequent information about this in due time.
Also we working on software services with our local content partner, ALT-I(African Languages Technology Initiative). We currently developing a HIV awareness application in Yoruba language which will aid in helping the rural populace in further understand the virus and means of prevention.
What is the future of the "The Encipher Group"?
We intend to truly preserve and express our culture using Technology. We intend to be a company which thinks locally thereby competing globally.
The "Encipher Group" is a privately owned company. Do you see it welcoming investors who want to be part of its success?
We intend to welcome investors on an expansion plan. At the moment, we want to gain traction, build credible distribution channels, commence some of our plans and then speak to investors on serious expansion plans. We see our mission of preserving and expressing culture expanding to Africa as a whole.
What is your opinion about the future of technology in Nigeria?
Thanks to the recent innovation by the Telcos, Technology in Nigeria will experience a growth similar to that when the GSM licencees commenced operations. Alot of companies will start to spring up and innovation will start to kick in slowly thereby causing an explosion in the adoption of technology.
What do you think the Nigerian Government can do to support entrepreneurs like you?
The Nigerian Government owes the Entrepreneurs one thing: An incubation program. Even if stable electricity is still a far cry, a technology incubation program managed by international firms in partnership with local ones and the government will go a long way in allowing Entrepreneurs like myself a reason to keep their passion and love burning.
Many thanks for this opportunity.