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Lucky 13th for Nintendo fans

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This Friday the 13th, Nintendo is aiming on overturning the superstition and misfortune that comes with it by announcing a range of new hardware and software releases.

While Friday 13th is considered by many to be a day shrouded in superstition and misfortune, Nintendo is aiming to overturn this notion and bring good fortune to South Africa’s handheld gaming fans this coming Friday. It has named the day #Nintendo3DSDay, and is marking it with a slew of new hardware and software releases.

At a time when the Nintendo 3DS family of systems has now sold over 50 million hardware units globally, the latest additions to the family, New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, make their South African debut on Friday 13th alongside two major software releases: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Capcom‘s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Both titles are playable on all Nintendo 3DS systems, but feature added functionality when experienced on New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, such as more stable 3D and enhanced camera controls using the C Stick. Two limited edition hardware bundles, New Nintendo 3DS XL Majora’s Mask 3D Edition and New Nintendo 3DS XL Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition will also launch on Friday to celebrate these highly-anticipated titles.

Meanwhile, exclusively on Nintendo eShop, IronFall: Invasion, an intense single-player and six-person local & online multiplayer action-shooter from three talented developers, launches alongside familiar faces in Kirby Fighters Deluxe and Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe. In addition, a free video-on-demand streaming service named Nintendo Anime Channel becomes available for download from Nintendo eShop, with anime series from the likes of Kirby, Pokémon, and Inazuma Eleven.

“We are delighted to be releasing such an extensive Nintendo 3DS hardware and software line-up, and hope this offering demonstrates our commitment to providing the best and most varied gameplay experiences possible for handheld gaming fans,” said Laurent Fischer, Managing Director, European Marketing & PR at Nintendo of Europe.

Nintendo’s releases for #Nintendo3DSDay, Friday 13th February, in full:

New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL: The latest additions to the Nintendo 3DS family feature new control options, face-tracking 3D technology, built-in amiibo functionality, and enhanced processing power. New Nintendo 3DS is compact and light, with a screen 1.2 times bigger than the original Nintendo 3DS and has the option of extra customisation using replaceable cover plates. New Nintendo 3DS XL boasts a luxury look and a 4.88 inch screen for even more dynamic and immersive gameplay. A free update will also be released on 10th February for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS  that will enable amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. Collection to be used with the new systems.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D: The handheld remake of the beloved, dark and twisted Nintendo 64 game launches exclusively for Nintendo 3DS family of systems.

New Nintendo 3DS XL Majora’s Mask 3D Edition: A limited edition hardware bundle that includes a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and a New Nintendo 3DS XL system covered in artwork inspired by the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Special Edition:  A limited edition software offering which includes a copy of the game in its standalone packaging, a specially-designed SteelBook, a pin badge and a double-sided poster.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: As players explore the world of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, they will face off against many ferocious enemies with up to three other friends locally or, for the first time on Nintendo 3DS, online using a wireless broadband Internet connection. Ahead of launch day fans should check out Nintendo eShop and get their hands on the demo, to brush up their skills ready for the battle ahead.

New Nintendo 3DS XL Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition: A limited edition hardware bundle that includes a copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and a New Nintendo 3DS XL system with an iconic emblem from the game on its cover.

IronFall: Invasion: A three-year project by independent developers VD-DEV, IronFall: Invasion brings fast-paced single-player and six-person local & online multiplayer shooting action, with the gameplay perfectly suited for using the C Stick of New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL.

Kirby Fighters Deluxe: Based on the popular battle mode in Kirby: Triple Deluxe, this standalone 4-player battle action game contains expanded gameplay, new arenas and the ability to play as a team.

Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe: Bounce to the beat of catchy Kirby tunes playing as Kirby’s long-time rival King Dedede. This standalone rhythm action game includes content not found in Kirby: Triple Deluxe including all-new stages and new obstacles.

Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy +: Play as the legendary pilot Phoenix and control fighter jets that exist in real-life. The game includes compatibility with the New Nintendo 3DS system’s C Stick and ZR/ZL buttons for total control, while certain amiibo unlock aircraft skins themed after characters like Captain Falcon, Samus, Bowser and more.

Nintendo Anime Channel: A new video-on-demand service offering fans the chance to stream anime series from the likes of Pokémon, Kirby, and Inazuma Eleven, with new content being added regularly. Access to the service is granted simply by downloading a free application from Nintendo eShop.

New Themes for Nintendo 3DS HOME Menu: Fans looking to spruce up their HOME Menu with a new theme are in luck! New Basic and Simple Colour Set themes can be downloaded for free from the Theme Shop which can be accessed through the HOME Menu settings on your Nintendo 3DS system. Those purchasing either The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate or Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+  will receive a free bonus theme download if purchased from Nintendo eShop, with additional themes available for purchase.

The fun doesn’t end on when the sun sets on Friday 13th #Nintendo3DSDay though. More high-profile handheld games for Nintendo 3DS family of systems are scheduled for release in the coming weeks and months. These include: Pokémon Shuffle (launching in February), Cooking Mama: Bon Appétit! (6th March), Gardening Mama: Forest Friends(6th March), Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (20th March), Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Wildfire and Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Thunderflash, (27th March) Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, (2nd April) Code Name S.T.E.A.M. (15th May), and Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition (May).

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Online retail gets real

After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.

Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.

The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.

This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping. 

But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.

On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.

He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.

According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.

In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature. 

Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.

A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand. 

In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.

Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.

It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time. 

It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.

Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.

The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.

Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.

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Reliable satellite Internet?

MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company. 

“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.

The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.

The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022. 

The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data. 

C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.

MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity.  Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.

Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.

Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online. 

“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”

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