Tech Talk

thumbnail (2)Africa’s smartphone market bounced back from two consecutive declines to post quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) growth of 4.4% in Q3 2017, according to the latest insights released by International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows smartphone shipments for the quarter reached 21.7 million units, spurred by ongoing economic recoveries in some of the continent’s major markets. Year on year (YoY), shipments were down -5.5%, but this still represents an improvement on the YoY performance seen in the previous two quarters.

In the feature phone space, shipments totaled 33.7 million units, down -3.6% QoQ after increasing for the three previous quarters. However, YoY, the feature phone market was up 11.5%. Feature phones still constitute a significant 60.8% share of the total mobile phone market as they adequately address the needs of African consumers that have limited purchasing power and require a reliable long-lasting mode of communication, particularly those in rural areas.

Combining smartphones and feature phones together, the overall Africa mobile phone market saw shipments of 55.4 million units in Q3 2017, which represents a slight QoQ decrease of -0.7% but an increase of 4.2% YoY. There were contrasting fortunes for the continent’s two biggest markets, with Nigeria seeing shipments increase 1.7% QoQ while South Africa suffered a decline of -8.0% over the same period.

“The Nigerian economy is slowly coming out of recession and we’re seeing signs of steady improvement in consumer demand for mobile phones,” says a research manager at IDC, RamazanYavuz,. “However, consumer spending remained slow in South Africa during Q3 2017 as many consumers opted to delay their purchases until Q4, when major campaigns take place around Black Friday and the lead up to Christmas. In addition, an unstable currency and challenging economic environment do not present favorable conditions for a surge in mobile phone shipments in the country.”

In terms of the vendor landscape, Transsion brands continued to lead the smartphone category in Q3 2017 with 30.1% share, followed closely by Samsung on 26.1%. “The Transsion Group maintains its position by engaging in aggressive sales and marketing campaigns, and by designing devices that address the specific needs of each local market,” says a senior research manager at IDC, Nabila Popal. “Samsung’s success in Q3 2017 was primarily due to its economically priced J series, which helped the vendor post a 0.6% QoQ increase in smartphone shipments for the quarter.” In the feature phone space, Tecno and itel continued to dominate proceedings in Q3 2017 with a combined share of 58.9%.

IDC’s research shows that 4G phones are growing in popularity, with shipments increasing 5.5% QoQ in Q3 2017 to finally account for a majority share of the smartphone market at 52.9%. A drop in prices for entry-level 4G phones and an increase in the number of 4G networks across the continent are driving this growth in 4G devices.

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to grow 6.2% QoQ in Q4 2017, spurred by the increase in demand that typically accompanies the festive season. However, the forecast for the year ahead is not as positive, with IDC expecting overall shipments to remain relatively flat through 2018, with a decline in feature phone shipments and slower uptake of smartphones causing the market to contract -0.5% YoY.

 

Japan has signed a new law that will make Bitcoins acceptable as legal tender. The regulations are albeit strict to curb malpractices using Bitcoins but also have a disadvantage of not being fair to small businesses.

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Businesses hoping to deal with Bitcoins are expected to have at least $100,000 in reserve currency, submit regular reports of their activities to government and undergo routine external audits by the Japanese National Tax Agency.

A license will also be needed before operations can be commenced and this license will cost companies about $300,000 and there is no guarantee that their request for a license will be granted. This huge price tag will likely discourage small businesses from adopting the currency.

Japan has been known for its reputation for being futuristic and how the Japanese government is usually in agreement with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins.

Facebook is creating more ways for users to share organic content with their network of family and friends and also finding more ways to eat deep into the essence of Snapchat. Facebook rolled out stories to all users, letting people take pictures and videos with playful overlays and filters. Although these stories can be viewed more than once, they are ephemeral, and will last only 24 hours.

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The story format of content was created and made popular by Snapchat has been adopted by Facebook and deployed to all the platforms they have affiliations with. Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook messenger and now Facebook.

This would be a nice feature for people that have always wanted to try out snapchat but couldn’t because, “they just don’t get it”. Facebook has a more familiar and less confusing interface. Have you tried it out yet? What do you think about it?

2017 is really gearing up to be the year of health tech both globally and locally. This is exciting news for health tech enthusiasts like me. Health and technology – information and communications technology aka the internet – to be specific.

While other fields of human endeavor have benefited from the internet, healthcare has proven to be pretty immune to the advances of the internet. This has turned out to be bad news for patients who suffer the brunt of reduced quality of care in the hands of undermanned health systems.

Health Tech

In the light of this and other factors, CcHub organized a hackathon for health to bring people and teams together to create solutions for health using technology. It was a gathering of stakeholders in healthcare with keynote speakers invited to share their thoughts and ideas on the future of healthcare.

The Future of health meetup is not just all talk and go, attendees at the conference were invited to create solutions for a hackathon scheduled for May 2017 where innovative solutions for healthcare will be created and demos will be carried out.

It is expected that workable solutions will arise from this platform to help tackle some of the longstanding problems facing health care.

After an explosive year 2016 that saw Samsung recall almost all of the Galaxy S7 while still managing to pull of huge profits, Samsung has released the Galaxy S8. Samsung has been known to make really great smartphones but last year raised some doubts in the minds of fans.

To promote the Galaxy S8, Samsung will need to do more than specs and branding, Samsung will have to reach into the hearts of consumers to reclaim their place. Samsung Galaxy S8 by itself packs a punch, yes much more than the S7 and it will not burst into flames – Samsung promised.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 features the curved screen that they have come to be known by, 5.8 inches diagonally 1440 x 2960 resolution an Exynos 8895 processor and a 4GB RAM lets you reimagine what a phone can do. The phone comes with a 12MP back camera and an 8MP front camera powered by a 3,000mAh battery and 64GB of inbuilt storage.

There are the additional bells and whistles found in modern smartphones well upgraded to fit the status of the Samsung Galaxy S8 so when you fork out $720 for this beast of a phone it will feel perfectly worth it.

Android has managed to conquer most of its woes and has become an operating system to reckon with on mobile devices and is looking to spread that dominance to laptops and desktops – we watch with bated breath. From very humble beginnings as the ridiculously ambitious mobile OS vying for Apple iOS coveted spot of most advanced smart phone OS to number one or number two in the market, depending on whose side you’re on, the android community is proud to have helped built Android.

However, there is one little problem; battery life. It would seem like battery life has only gotten worse, although this is purely relative as Android batteries have actually improved. But Android capabilities and by extension it’s battery guzzling ability have increased by far more.

Android O

Android O plans to tackle that problem by reducing what apps running in the background can do with your phone and location updates will be vastly minimized. This is supposed to provide the most outstanding battery life for your android in stand-by mode.

Apart from battery saving tweaks, there would be the usual visual enhancements that Google has been known to provide update after update. Android O will also come with changes to the notifications allowing some notifications dismiss themselves after they could be deemed not needful.

Android O is expected to be released in the last quarter of 2017 but beta versions are already making the rounds getting the necessary adjustments in time for a possible announcement at Google I/O which is expected to hold in the month of June this year.

In yet another attempt at a comeback, Nokia plans to relaunch the classic 3310 that won out hearts about a decade and half ago. The company has failed at several attempts to make a comeback over the years after falling behind rivals since the smart phone revolution. Even a sale to Microsoft did not help the company make any gains.
Each time the company fails at an attempted comeback it seems they have used up some of the grace they have in the hands of users and soon this grace will be exhausted – it definitely will not be unlimited.

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The relaunched Nokia 3310 may find love in the hands of oldies who used the original version when it first launched and perhaps young people might like the nostalgic feeling it evokes.
Available in four finishes – Warm Red and Yellow, both with a gloss finish, and Dark Blue and Grey both with a matte finish with 2.0MP camera, 16GB of RAM and 1200mAh Li-Ion Battery. 
If you want a phone that can last up to one month on a single charge and is durable, then the relaunched Nokia 3310 is for you.  
The dual-SIM handset sports a 2MP camera along with 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 32 GB via a microSD card slot. The new Nokia 3310 ships with Snake preinstalled, as well as a full-colour display.
The phone comes with a 2.40-inch display with a resolution of 240 pixels by 320 pixels. It measures 115.60 x 51.00 x 12.80 (height x width x thickness). Connectivity options include Bluetooth and FM.

The future is upon us and robots are taking over, both on the internet and in real life – offices, factories etc. Robots have come to stay and they will be taking your job anytime soon – after all they are more efficient than you are and they don’t grumble – they also don’t ask for pee breaks.

In a future where robots take over jobs, unemployment will get a spike because no matter how many new jobs are created they will not be nearly enough. How do we deal with this job losses due to robots and automation?

Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Gates, also a co-founder of Microsoft spoke about his view of Apple's battle against an FBI court order to unlock an iPhone belonging to a shooter involved in the San Bernardino, California terror attack and the need for a balance between privacy and government access. Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Gates, also a co-founder of Microsoft spoke about his view of Apple’s battle against an FBI court order to unlock an iPhone belonging to a shooter involved in the San Bernardino, California terror attack and the need for a balance between privacy and government access. Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tax. Yes tax! That is the proposition made by Bill Gates. He says it will help provide funding for fields where humans are still needed like senior care and it would also help to slow down the rate of automation.

We might want to think this is not yet a problem we and so we should not worry about it right now, but it is. In fact, the reason banks find it easy to let go of workers from time to time is because they have found ways to automate the processes that workers were employed for.

So, you just wake up one day and your job has been taken over by a few lines of code and you are no longer needed, just like that. Bill Gates has it right with his suggestion that robots and automated processes should be taxed.

The long-term cost of taking people off jobs without providing a replacement for them outweigh the immediate benefits of efficiency and cost that might be accrued.

“Nigerian Telcos are greedy!” That’s what someone said. He had facts to back up his claim. He even pulled up a chart that showed we pay one of the highest rates for internet connectivity. “Yet these Telcos complain that we make internet calls”. He went on and on, his anger seemed to have been pent up.

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Truly we pay a fortune to access the internet, we pay a lot to make GSM calls and the quality of services we get does little to match the cost to access them. Every now and then, we see news that Telcos want to block WhatsApp calls or tax them differently.

Is it just greed or are Nigerian Telcos also operating from their own pain point? They like to make it seem like they are at the brink of making losses, but we know too well that is not the case. If Telcos really want Nigerians to stop using the internet to make calls, then they should reduce the cost of making phone calls, especially international calls.

Telcos should complain less about internet calls using WhatsApp and skype and Facebook because if users don’t have them we would not necessarily switch to expensive GSM calls, no, we would just move on with our lives. But with internet calls, we get to spend money on data which is a plus for them.

“If the service is free, then you are the product”, if WhatsApp users understood this maxim they would quit splitting hairs over WhatsApp’s latest update that gives it a snapchat/Instagram-esque look.

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Truly it makes you question what the app is supposed to be for? Sending messages to your contacts for business and pleasure or sharing pictures of the ice-cream you just had. I am not left out of the confusion, trust me, I still grapple with what is safe and not safe for my WhatsApp status.

The reason I am not losing my mind over it, is that I saw this coming from miles away. After the app was acquired by Facebook, I knew I would not be long before they started talking about profitability. And yes, finally, that fowl has come home to roost, WhatsApp wants to start making money.

The route they chose to thread was that of selling eyeballs – and they have many of those, with 1 billion users worldwide and counting. Instead of crying blue murder, users can find ways to leverage the new feature to appeal to new and existing companies, so as WhatsApp makes money off users, users make money off the app, and everyone wins.

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