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MWC: Apple, Google, still most valuable tech brands

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As the world’s tech companies gathered this week in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, Brand Finance has released its annual review of the state of their brands, the Brand Finance Tech 100.

Key Findings:

  • Apple extends lead with record breaking US$145bn brand value
  • Galaxy S6 restores Samsung’s brand rating to AAA
  • Qualcomm takes brand value hit following Snapdragon 810 fiasco
  • Uber enters table with US$11bn brand value
  • WeChat grows brand value by 83%

Apple Not Rotten Yet

With a value of US$145, Apple remains the world’s most valuable brand. Despite annual predictions of a plateau or fall from grace, brand value is up 14%. Revenue for the last three months of 2015 was a record-breaking US$75.3 billion. Though there has been much disappointment about slowing growth, this must be seen in the context of an exceptional period at the end of 2014 following the release of the iPhone 6. To not just maintain but increase sales in a saturated market is encouraging and assertions that Apple has gone rotten are premature.

Snapdragon Leaves Qualcomm Red-Faced 

Qualcomm is one of this year’s biggest losers in the technology table, brand value has taken a 17% dip whilst the brand rating has been downgraded from AA+ to AA. This is largely due to the fact that the company’s flagship processor, the Snapdragon 810, was nothing short of a disaster. Qualcomm’s highly anticipated processor was found to overheat and malfunction when subjected to heavier workloads. The issue was so critical that Samsung dropped the Qualcomm processor from its extremely popular Galaxy line. Qualcomm lost a year’s worth of orders from one its biggest clients, and the consequent damage to brand value is clear.

S6 & S7 Restore Samsung’s Image

Samsung’s brand rating, which indicates the strength and future potential of the brand, has been restored to AAA this year thanks in part to the positive reception of the Galaxy S6. Critics raved about the significantly improved design, which also put the Galaxy S6 on the radar of voguish iPhone users. The recently unveiled Galaxy S7 looks to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor but adds features such as water resistance, extended battery life and the sorely missed expandable storage option. Revenues have also improved this year, most of them coming from Samsung’s semiconductor business which produces chips for most smartphone manufacturers, including, ironically, their fiercest rival, Apple.

Uber Starts Well but has a Tough Road Ahead

Uber has firmly established itself in the top end of this year’s technology table with an impressive brand value of US$11bn. This makes the ride hailing app’s brand more valuable than industry giants such as Panasonic, Dell and Sony. However challenging times could lie ahead. Uber launched its new logo with great fanfare this year, however the colourful geometric shapes that make up the new identity failed to impress. Critics were quick to label the new logo ’unattractive’ and ‘ambiguous’. The backlash resulted in Uber’s head of design stepping down only a day after the new identity was revealed. Uber continues to face regulatory challenges in the west, as the company is bombarded with protests and lawsuits from taxi unions and transport authorities while in the east, the company struggles to turn a profit. This is largely due to fierce competitors, such as Didi Kuaidi, which is the favoured low-cost ride hailing company in China.

WeChat Nearly Doubles

WeChat increased its brand value by 83% this year, making it one of the fastest growing brands in the technology table. The messaging app, which also offers a payment platform, has seen rapid growth, with registered users totalling at an astonishing 1.1bn, out of which 100m are based outside of China. Tencent, the holding company that owns and operates WeChat, recently announced that WeChat will start charging its users for payment transactions in March 2016, a move that could boost revenues even higher.

The World’s Most Valuable Tech Brands (Top 10):

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.47.48 PM

* Click on graph for an enlarged option.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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