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Facebook, Instagram, shape SA social media

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The South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study has revealed that a quarter of South Africans use Facebook while Instagram has seen the fastest growth of any social network in the country.|The South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study has revealed that a quarter of South Africans use Facebook while Instagram has seen the fastest growth of any social network in the country.

Facebook is now used by a quarter of all South Africans, while Instagram has seen the fastest growth of any social network in South Africa over the past year.

These are two of the key findings from the South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study, released today by World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

The study is based on access to consumer data from seven major social networks and a corporate survey conducted among more than a hundred of South Africa’s leading brands.

It showed 13-million South Africans now on Facebook, with 10-million, or 77 per cent, using it on mobile devices. Smartphones are used by 7,9-million South Africans to access Facebook, while 1,6-million are using basic feature phones to do so. Tablets are being used to access Facebook by 1,4-million people – many of whom are also using their phones.

“There is a misperception that Facebook numbers are dwindling. Numbers show the opposite,” says Gil Sperling, co-founder and chief technical officer of Popimedia, Facebook Marketing Partner in Africa. “Solid growth of daily active users was recorded even in Facebook’s most mature and saturated markets. Social media applications are maintaining their relevance across all demographics and regions.”

Sperling points out that Facebook as a whole has seen dramatic evolution.

“It’s grown from the ‘single blue app’ on mobile phones to a strong family of applications through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and the launch of Messenger and Groups. As a collective, revenue in excess of $12 billion is indicative of a healthy ecosystem and a thriving user base, which keeps returning.”

 

The big surprise in the results came from Instagram more than doubling its user numbers in South Africa, from 1,1-million in 2014 to 2,68-mlllion in 2015 – 133 per cent growth compared to an already high 65 per cent growth in 2015.

“The big trend last year was the impact of all visual networks,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of technology research organisation World Wide Worx. “Now we are seeing not only the impact of Instagram refining its offering, but also of users finding fascinating new ways of making it work for them.”

The biggest Instagram followings are claimed by media personalities, who post photos that give fans a glimpse into both their private and public lives. Minnie Dlamini leads with 517 000 followers and Bonang Matheba is close behind with 512 000. Among those who are not focused on posting images of themselves, professional photographers lead Instagram. Gareth Pon is the leading South African photographer on Instagram, with 246 000 followers, ahead of Gareth Howes, who has built up a 195 000 following.

Instagram also shows the highest planned use by major brands for social networks not currently in use, with 24 per cent saying they plan to do so on the coming year. At present, 42 per cent of major brands are using it, with Mr Price and Mercedes Benz having been the most successful with individual images.

“As brands become more comfortable with specific social networks, they become far more effective at using them as marketing and positioning platforms,” says Mike Wronski, managing director of media analytics organisation Fuseware. “Instagram is already the big winner among users. Brands want to tap into that enthusiasm.”

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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