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Google brings Launchpad Accelerator to Africa

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Google has announced two major new developments, which will provide a major boost to African entrepreneurs and app developers respectively.

In line with the commitment Google CEO Sundar Pichai made to support African entrepreneurs earlier this year, the company has announced Google Developers Launchpad Africa, a new hands-on comprehensive mentorship program tailored exclusively to startups based in Africa.

Building on the success of Google’s global Launchpad Accelerator programme, this initiative will operate from a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos (the first onsite location for the programme outside the US).

It will provide African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa over the next three years. Participants will also receive travel and PR support during the three-month programme.

The first application period is now open through December 11, 9am PST and the first class will start in early 2018. More classes will be hosted in 2018 and beyond.

All startups must:

  • Be a technology startup.
  • Be based in Sub-Saharan Africa and target the African market.
  • Have already raised seed funding

Google will additionally consider:

  • The problem you are trying to solve. How does it create value for users? How are you addressing a real challenge for your home city, country or Africa broadly?
  • Will you share what you learn in Silicon Valley for the benefit of other startups in your local ecosystem?

“Anyone who spends time in the African technology space knows that the continent is home to some exciting innovations,” says Andy Volk, Sub-Saharan Africa Ecosystem Regional Manager. “Over the years, Google has worked with some incredible startups across Africa, tackling everything from healthcare, education, streamlining e-commerce to improving the food supply chain. We very much look forward to welcoming the first cohort of innovators for Launchpad Africa and continue to work together to drive innovation in the African market.”

At the same time, Google says it is making life easier for South African-based developers within the Google Play ecosystem.

Starting today, developers in South Africa can sell paid applications, in-app products, and subscriptions in Google Play, with monthly payouts to their local bank accounts. They can take advantage of all of the tools offered by Google Play to monetise their products in the best way for their businesses, and they can target their products to the paid ecosystem of hundreds of millions of users in South Africa and across the world.

Android developers based in South Africa can get started right away by signing in to their Developer Console and setting up a Google merchant account. If their apps are already published as free, they can monetise them by adding in-app products or subscriptions.

New apps can be published as paid, in addition to selling in-app products or subscriptions.

“While there have been plenty of amazing apps built in South Africa, the process of monetising them was never as smooth as we knew it could be,” says Luke McKend, Google South Africa’s Country Director. “By allowing local developers to monetise their products on the Play Store, we’re underscoring how serious we are about digitally empowering South Africans.

Once a developer has prepared their apps and in-app products, they can price them in any available currencies, publish, and then receive payouts and financial data in South African Rand. Visit the developer help centre for more details.

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As selfie cameras rise, so must selfie etiquette

Selfies were once a sign of narcissism or self-obsession. Now they are the new normal, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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You can blame Oxford Dictionaries for making the “selfie” respectable. After all, being named Word of the Year, as it was in 2013, does tend to soften some of the self-consciousness in this most self-conscious of actions.

Once seen as a symbol of narcissism and self-obsession, it is now the new normal, to the extent that most smartphones are sold on the basis of the front camera. Or, as that feature is now almost universally named by manufacturers, the “selfie camera”.

I was one of the hold-outs, having a near-allergy to the selfie. I still resist, but succumb more often than I would like. The reason for continued resistance is that it remains a big leap from the word becoming respectable to the action itself shedding its narcissistic image. 

For most, it’s already happened, and for that you can blame Ellen DeGeneres. She  choreographed the most famous group selfie yet at the 2014 Oscars, when she roped a bunch of actors into a group selfie, using the then-new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Her tweet of the photo became what was then the most retweeted posting ever on Twitter, and was estimated to have been worth a million dollars in marketing value to Samsung.

Ironically, it was Samsung’s up-and-coming challenger, Huawei, that came up with a new word for this type of selfie: the “groufie”. Thanks to an 8 Megapixel front camera on the new Huawei Ascend P7 camera that year which took the highest quality selfies – and groufies – possible on a smartphone at the time.

It didn’t end there, and selfies and groufies have morphed into variations like selfscapes (selfie in a landscape), skyfies (selfies from the air, using remote controlled devices) and jerkies (selfies to make an idiot out of yourself). I invented all of those on the fly, so it’s easy to imagine a new word emerging for every type of selfie.

Continue reading about selfie improvements through the years.

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Mickey’s 90th for SA

Disney Africa announced the local launch of the Mickey the True Original campaign, joining the global festivities honouring 9 decades of Mickey Mouse, his heritage, personality and status as a pop-culture icon.

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As 18 November 2018 marks 90 years since his first appearance in Steamboat Willie in November 1928, a series of world-wide celebrations will be taking place this year and South Africa is no different.

The campaign will come to life with engaging content and events that embrace Mickey’s impact on the past, present and future. The local festivities kick off in earnest this month, leading up to Mickey’s 90th anniversary on 18 November 2018 and beyond:

  • An exclusive local design project where ten highly talented South African artists will apply their own inspiration and artistic interpretation on 6-foot Mickey Mouse statues.
  • Once revealed to the public, the statues will form part of the Mickey the True Original South African Exhibition, inspired by Mickey’s status as a ‘true original’ and his global impact on popular culture. The exhibition will travel to 3 cities and delight fans and families alike as they journey with Mickey over the years. Featuring 4 sections highlighting Mickey’s innovation, his evolution, influence on fashion and also pop culture, the exhibition is in collaboration with Samsung and Edgars, and will visit:

o   Sandton City, Centre Court: 28 September – 14 October

o   Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Expo Explore Court: 19 October – 11 November

o   Canal Walk Shopping Centre. Centre Court: 16 November – 26 November

  • Samsung continues their collaboration with Disney as they honour Mickey’s 90th anniversary nationally at all Samsung and Edgars Stores. Entitled Unlocking the Imagination, fans are encouraged to visit these stores, take a selfie with a giant Mickey plush toy using their Samsung Galaxy Note9 and stand a chance to win not only a giant Mickey plush, but also an international family trip. Visit www.Samsung.com for more information
  • Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, a two-hour prime-time special, will be screened on M-Net 101 later this year. The elegant affair will feature star-studded musical performances, moving tributes and never-before-seen short films. Superstars from music, film and television will join the birthday fun for the internationally beloved character.
  • In addition, look out for special programming on Mickey’s birthday (18 November) across Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303), Disney XD (DStv, Channel 304) and Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309).
  • In retailers, Edgars will be stocking a complete collection of trendy fashion, accessories and footwear for the whole family, inspired entirely by Mickey Mouse.
  • Mickey will be the central theme of an in-store campaign nationwide this November and December, with brand new products, apparel, toys, as well as titles from Disney Publishing Worldwide, including books, arts & crafts and comics
  • Discovery Vitality and Disney are celebrating healthy, happy families this festive season by offering helpful and exciting tips and tricks on how to eat nutritious, yet delicious, foods, all inspired by Mickey. There’s also a trip to Disneyland Paris up for grabs. Log on to www.discovery.co.za/vitality for information.
  • And much more – check the press for updates

“Binding generations together more than any other animated character, Mickey Mouse is the “True Original” who reminds people of all ages of the benefits of laughter, optimism and hope,” says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and Country Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa. “With his universal appeal and ability to emotionally connect with generations all over the world, no other character quite occupies a similar space in the hearts and minds of a global fan base and we are thrilled to be sharing these local festivities.”

Mickey’s birthday is celebrated in honour of the release of his first theatrical film, Steamboat Willie, on 18th November 1928, at the Colony Theatre in New York City. Since then, he has starred in more than 100 cartoons and can currently be seen on Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303) in the Mickey Mouse cartoon series and on Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309) in Mickey and the Roadster Racers.

South African fans are encouraged to share their Mickey Mouse moments on social media using the hashtag#Mickey90Africa.

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