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Samsung’s 3 new Gears gear up wearables

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Samsung has introduced three Gear devices to its wearable portfolio. The Gear Sport, a smartwatch that is water resistant; the Gear Fit2 Pro and the Gear IconX, the next generation wireless earbuds.

The new devices assist with a range of activities across robust fitness tracking to nutrition and sleep monitoring, as well as motivational coaching as a lifestyle companion. Through the introduction of new smart capabilities, easy-to-use features and by partnering with leading names in technology and fitness, Samsung is enabling consumers to go beyond fitness, to accomplish even bigger things.

“Samsung has a long history of innovating technologies that meet consumers goals and aspirations. Whether you are going for a jog or training for a triathlon, Samsung’s wearables are designed with everyday athletes, of varying fitness levels, in mind. Our wearables defy the stereotype that being fit requires spending copious amounts of time in the gym with fitness trackers that are complex and only compatible with the most intense workouts. Rather, the new Samsung Gear wearables enable consumers of all shapes and sizes to ‘go beyond fitness’ to enjoy an active, balanced and fulfilled life in a smart and seamless way,” said Justin Hume, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung South Africa.”

As part of this updated line-up, Samsung created new capabilities for Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro:

·         Industry-Leading Water Resistance and Swim Tracking: An ideal companion for any swimming activity – from laps to playing in the pool – these devices are 5 ATM certified for water resistance. Now with Speedo’s latest swimming training app, Speedo On, the Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro also allow consumers to easily track key swim metrics including lap count, lap time, stroke type and more.

·         Top-of-the-line Heart Rate Monitoring: With improved accuracy, the devices offer advanced real-time heart rate monitoring. They help consumers to continuously monitor heart activity such as while enjoying an invigorating cycling class.

·         Premium Partnerships: Daily activity can be supplemented with updated Under Armour and Spotify partnerships. Both devices provide access to Under Armour’s fitness apps including Under Armour Record, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep and fitness tracking functions – these apps provide users with a holistic picture of their health and fitness. Spotify’s Offline mode lets users listen to their favourite music online, offline or even without a smartphone so they can enjoy their favourite tunes regardless of location.

·         Auto Activity Detection: Automatic activity detection built into the devices are in tune with the body and can recognise the following categories of activities: Walking, Running, Cycling and performing Dynamic Activities that could include dancing to basketball.

·         Personalised Motivation: Consumers can customise a wellness plan with tailored goals and alerts.

Gear Sport: A new versatile smartwatch to support an active and balanced lifestyle 

Gear Sport is stylish, yet practical with a minimalistic, circular bezel, Super AMOLED 1.2-inch display and improved user interface that makes it easy to view information, even when on-the-go. With Gear Sport, users can work to achieve health and wellness goals, and receive nutrition management alerts and activity recommendations even when they are offline.

Designed with military-level durability, it can handle a wide-range of environments. With its sleek, ergonomic form, it can be worn in a variety of colourful and easily changeable standard 20mm straps, and it is perfect for any occasion so you can effortlessly transition from the gym to a night out with friends. Gear Sport is available in blue and black and also includes Gear foundational functions to:

·          Control Samsung IoT-enabled devices through Samsung Connect

·          Act as a remote control, whether for a PowerPoint presentation or Samsung Gear VR headset

·          Pay for goods with a flick of the wrist via Samsung Pay (NFC Only)

Gear Fit2 Pro: An advanced GPS fitness band

In addition to new swim and heart rate monitoring capabilities, the new Gear Fit2 Pro features advanced built-in GPS tracking to capture a run or ride with accurate activity tracking. Gear Fit2 Pro’s Super AMOLED curved 1.5-inch display and a high-resolution colour touchscreen make real-time updates and notifications easier to read. The all-new secure, ergonomic band is light weight and comfortable to use for all activities. Available in black and red, its versatile design also makes it a stylish accessory.

Gear IconX: Comfortable fit, cord-free earbuds

IconX cord-free earbuds enables consumers to effortlessly listen to their favourite music – making the daily commute more enjoyable or helping to get more from a workout. Music can be enjoyed on and offline by transferring songs from a Samsung smartphone or PC, or accessing tunes through Bluetooth connectivity. The earbuds are also the newest connection to Bixby. With a simple tap and hold of the earbud consumers can use their voice to control music or the phone – without even having to hold it.

The updated design comes in black, grey and pink and is more ergonomic and lightweight so they are effectively secure, comfortable and stylish to use. For the fitness enthusiast, the Gear IconX automatically tracks running routines, and also features the standalone Running Coach function which can be activated by simply tapping the earbud to provide in-ear audio exercise status updates – in real-time and without a phone. With a fast-charging and improved battery life of up to five hours of music streaming or seven hours of standalone music playback, and up to 4GB of internal storage, consumers can enjoy a seamless and fully standalone music listening experience.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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