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SA search went local in 2017

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The top searches on Google in South Africa shows deepening interest in local news and places, writes BRYAN TURNER.

South Africans are searching more locally now than in previous years, according to Google’s Year In Search analysis, which offers a snapshot of the most popular searches of the year.

It shows that, for 2017, the first seven of the Top 10 Trending Searched Personalities in this country were South African, and six out of the Top 10 Trending Search Terms were directly related to South Africa.

“This is really telling of the society, not just that more people are coming online, but also that South Africans are genuinely interested in South Africa and the surrounds,” says Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs for South Africa at Google.

Top personality searches at Google's SA search museum

Top personality searches at Google’s SA “search museum”

Dumi Masilela, an actor from the South African TV show Rhythm City, topped the list of searches after he was killed in an attempted hijacking in August this year. Atagana stressed that Google searches might be becoming more relevant due to more South Africans becoming connected and searching for answers to questions arising from daily situations.

“This year I thought it was very telling of South African society to see a question like ‘What is junk status?’.”

Google’s Year In Search launch event was designed as a museum of searches this year, with various sections split up into visual and interactive categories, auch as portraits of trending personalities, and recipe cards for trending recipes. In the recipe section, the number 1 Trending Searched Recipe was Oxtail, but holds a Top Trending result only in South Africa.

This year Google introduced Top Trending ‘Near Me’, which reveals how people search for places of interest closest to them, using location services within a phone or browser. Only three positions were held by restaurants or food outlets: KFC, Steers and Sushi. The topic winner here was healthcare services, which held four positions in the top 10: Pharmacy, Dentist, Gynaecologist and Doctor.

Atagana said that it was interesting to see that serious questions were brought up in the trending question section, with “What role can the private sector play in poverty alleviation?” sitting at 4th place. However, this may have related to it being a school assignment in the Western Cape. Burning topics like Hurricane Dineo and Bitcoin topped the list of questions.

op Near Me searches at Google's SA search museum

Top Near Me searches at Google’s SA “search museum”

There were some surprises about some personalities not making the top 10 list, such as Donald Trump and the Gupta Family.

“One of my biggest surprises was that there are no Gupta mentions on any of the lists.” said Atagana. “Trump didn’t make our people list either, when we thought he would.”

In the 2016 Year In Search results, Donald Trump ranked 4th in overall trending searches and the Gutpa family ranked 3rd in trending South African politicians and prominent figures.

Top recipe searches at Google's SA "search "museum

Top recipe searches at Google’s SA “search “museum

Top Trending Search Terms in South Africa

Near Me

1) Pharmacy near me
2) Dentist near me
3) KFC near me
4) Jobs hiring near me
5) Hardware store near me
6) Gynecologist near me
7) Printing shops near me
8) Steers near me
9) Sushi near me
10) Doctors near me

Personalities
1) Dumi Masilela
2) Joe Mafela
3) Joost van der Westhuizen
4) Zodwa Wabantu
5) Mandla Hlatshwayo
6) Lundi Tyamara
7) Simphiwe Ngema
8) Grace Mugabe
9) Hugh Hefner
10) Chester Bennington

Questions
1) What is dineo?
2) What is bitcoin?
3) Who won the money fight?
4) What role can the private sector play in poverty alleviation?
5) How to lose belly fat?
6) How old is Simphiwe Ngema?
7) What is happening in Zimbabwe?
8) How to make slime?
9) What is junk status?
10) How to manage xenophobia?

Recipes
1) Oxtail recipes
2) Sweet potato recipes
3) Beef stew recipes
4) Vegan recipes
5) Creamed spinach recipes
6) Halal recipes
7) Prawn recipes
8) Spaghetti recipes
9) Cauliflower recipes
10) Bread recipes

Searches
1) Dumi Masilela
2) Zimbabwe
3) Cyclone Dineo
4) Joe Mafela
5) Karabo Mokoena
6) Joost van der Westhuizen
7) Black Friday
8) Mayweather vs McGregor Fight
9) Fast and Furious 8
10) Hurricane Irma

TV Shows
1) 13 Reasons Why
2) Game of Thrones
3) Isibaya
4) Uzalo
5) Big Brother Naija
6) American Gods
7) Idols SA
8) Sex in the City
9) Big Little Lies
10) Riverdale

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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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