Africa’s mobile phone industry has in recent times been by Transsion, a Shenzhen-based company that is little known outside the African continent and is gearing up for an . Now, its Chinese peer Vivo is following its shadow to this burgeoning part of the world with low-cost offerings. the world’s , this week that it’s bringing its budget-friendly smartphones into Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt; the line of products is already available in Morocco. It’s obvious that Vivo wants in on an expanding market as its home country China experiences . Despite a global slowdown, Africa posted annual growth in smartphone shipments last year thanks in part to the abundance of entry-level products, according to market research firm IDC. Affordability is the key driver for any smartphone brands that want to grab a slice of the African market. That’s what vaulted Transsion into a top dog on the continent where it sells feature phones for less than $20. Vivo’s Y series smartphones, which are priced as little as $170, are vying for a place with Transsion, Samsung and Huawei that have respective unit shares of 34.3%, 22.6% and 9.9% in Africa last year. The Middle East is also part of Vivo’s latest expansion plan despite the region’s recent . The Y series, which comes in several models sporting features like the 89% screen-to-body ratio or the artificial intelligence-powered triple camera, is currently for sale in the United Arab Emirates and will launch in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the coming months. Vivo’s new international push came months after its sister company, also owned by BBK, made into the Middle East and Africa by opening a new regional hub in Dubai. “Since our first entry into international markets in 2014, we have been dedicated to understanding the needs of consumers through in-depth research in an effort to bring innovative products and services to meet changing lifestyle needs,” said Vivo’s senior vice president Spark Ni in a statement. “The Middle East and Africa markets are important to us, and we will tailor our approach with consumers’ needs in mind. The launch of Y series is just the beginning. We look forward to bringing our other widely popular products beyond Y series to consumers in the Middle East and Africa very soon,” the executive added.
ChefSteps co-founder and CEO Chris Young shows off the Joule sous vide cooking device during the 2016 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong) In the days following news that , the cooking technology startup, had to make , co-founder and CEO Chris Young has said that while the situation “truly sucks,” the company is still operating. Young shared some insight in a public group on Facebook last Friday night, writing that ChefSteps’ “funding situation unexpectedly changed” and a “significant fraction” of the 7-year-old company’s team — reported to be about 50 people — had to be let go. “I appreciate your understanding that in the coming days our focus will be on supporting our affected friends and that we may be a bit slower to respond than usual,” Young wrote in a post to the group, which is a community of more than 17,000 users and fans of ChefSteps’ signature product, the sous vide cooking device. Young said certain lines of business, including Joule Ready and any additional content being added to ChefSteps Premium, would be discontinued. But product and customer support for Joule will still be available. In a follow-up text to GeekWire this week, Young said he had nothing additional to add to what was in the Facebook post, and said, “We are still operating while we explore strategic options.” ChefSteps was by Young and Grant Crilly, who both previously collaborated with former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold on his epic . The startup, which is currently of the Pacific Northwest’s top privately held companies, has been funded through a low-interest loan from Gabe Newell, head of the video game company Valve. “I won’t lie, this is all incredibly difficult, but making these changes will allow us to focus on Joule and continue to support the hundreds of thousands of customers that cook with Joule,” Young wrote on Facebook. “We remain confident in our Joule sous vide business, which continues to exceed our expectations. We will continue to provide product and customer support for Joule — yes, your Joule is going to keep working.” Read the Facebook post in full and captured below: (Facebook screenshot)