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90-min delivery from picup

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On-demand delivery service, picup, has launched a new offering that will allow small, medium or large sized businesses to collect and deliver documents and parcels in under 90 minutes.

Available on the web, picupBusiness has been created to address the need for a fast and efficient delivery service that will allow businesses to deliver important documents in a fraction of the time it would take a traditional same day delivery courier service. And if the delivery isn’t made within 90 minutes picup have promised to credit the full fare to the client.

The launch of picupBusiness follows the launch of its consumer offering on WeChat in May this year. Picup is an on-demand collection and delivery service for documents, packages, parcels and incidentals. Users request a driver to collect and/or deliver goods to and from a determined location.

“It didn’t take long for us to realise that businesses formed a core part of our target market and we needed a solution that allowed them to place a picup from their PC. While today’s consumer is constantly on the go and a mobile offering on WeChat is the perfect solution, the average business person still does most of their work from a desktop computer,” says Antonio Bruni, Founder & CEO of picup. “And so, the business-friendly, web-browser version of picup was born – picupBusiness.”

Traditional same day deliveries are typically handled by a number of people. Deliveries are usually sent to the depot and orders need to be placed and ready before lunchtime to be delivered that day. A further struggle that courier companies face is that all their vehicles work within set routes every day. “In order to offer a same-day solution, courier companies need to pull a driver off a route to do one delivery or they need one designated driver doing same-day deliveries, which results in exorbitant costs,” says Bruni.

picupBusiness has over 200 drivers located in and around Cape Town, ensuring they’re ready and waiting to collect parcels within minutes of orders being placed. picupBusiness allows a business to immediately dispatch the closest driver to complete the delivery in the quickest time, and if the delivery isn’t completed within 90 minutes, it’s free. Rates are determined by the mode the user selects (bicycles, motorbikes and cars) along with the distance. The parcel weight becomes irrelevant as long as it can fit within the dimensions of each mode of transport.

“In our mind, same-day delivery means delivery within 90-minutes (traffic dependant) of placing the picup. In today’s world, people need things to be done immediately and we’re helping them achieve that. What’s more, you only have to sign up with picup once, and after that the steps to place a picup are so simple you can do it in under three minutes. This allows people to get back to running their business without having to worry about tedious paperwork or hand delivering a document to get it to the right person on time,” says Bruni.

Businesses will soon be able to book a three hour delivery option. If a delivery isn’t urgent and a client has time to spare, then you can book a delivery at a reduced rate, with a guaranteed delivery within three hours.

In the few short months since picup launched, the feedback has proved how necessary and efficient a service like this is. “During the testing phases of picup, a lady placed a shoe order online and jumped into the shower shortly after. By the time she was out of the shower, the delivery driver was knocking on the door with her order. Now that’s the kind of service that no traditional courier service can offer and is why picup are going to do great things in this market,” says Brett Loubser, head of WeChat for Africa. “We’re so pleased to be associated with a start up like picup, which is disrupting the logistics market in Cape Town and will soon take on other cities in South Africa.”

The launch of picup on WeChat in the Cape Town area has been met with praise by individuals wanting to save time and money. Now picupBusiness gives companies the opportunity to do the same right from their web-browsers. Meanwhile, people in the economic capital of South Africa, who have been wondering when this new service will hit the streets of Johannesburg, can expect to spot the blue picup bicycles, scooters and cars in the next few months.

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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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