An addiction to social media inspired the smartphone branded by South Africa’s leading hip hop artist, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
In his musical career, South Africa’s king of hip hop, Cassper Nyovest, has always beaten his own path. He released his first two albums on his own label, Family Tree. They were massive hits, both reaching Platinum status by selling more than 50 000 units each.
The second of these, entitled Reflioe (his real name), went gold in a single day when he filled the Dome, a 20 000-seat venue north of Johannesburg, by including a copy of the album with every ticket bought. The launch event was part-sponsored by AG Mobile, the local smartphone brand that is also the fastest-growing in South Africa.
That sponsorship started a relationship that will culminate, in the next fortnight, with the release of the first smartphone designed by a South African artist.
“They were keen to empower us as a team,” he said before the unveiling of the phone last week. “We started a conversation around developing a phone I would help design. After a few meetings, we came up with concept of the AG #Hashtag. The reason was that I am addicted to is social media.”
Like AG in the mobile market, Cassper has one of the fastest growing followings in local social media. He has passed the half-million mark on Twitter, is followed by 766 000 people on Instagram, and is close to 2-million Facebook Likes.
His public life is lived through these outlets, which provide him both with a powerful marketing tool and a platform from which to counter media mischief.
“I’ve always been a boy who messed with tech, with cellphones and video games. But I have always been addicted to social media, starting when it was just Mxit, then Facebook, then Twitter. I’ve always been that guy on social media and that’s how we built our brand. Before my music started playing on radio, I already had a big following on social media and it’s really empowered me.”
At times, it’s also attracted the wrong kind of attention when he has treated the reply window like a weapon. But he insists he has toned down.
“I’m just a very honest person and I’m opinionated but I’ve learned to grow more responsible. I came from the streets where I don’t have a boss and can say anything I want. But once I started dealing with other brands, I understood brand association. I’m more calm now and don’t share my opinion as much in public.”
The temptation is always there for artists to leverage social media as a sales platform. Cassper does it only indirectly.
“I’m not like a guerilla marketer in terms of selling music. I don’t ask people to buy my music. I just try to put out good music and convince people to listen. I don’t like to fill up my timeline with price tags.”
The #Hashtag was designed to match the artist’s persona.
“I wanted the phone to stand out when it lies next to other phones on a table. I wanted it to be the phone you see from far. At first everyone was against it being red, but I convinced them. MTN doesn’t usually range red phones. The reason for being red was that it was inspired by one of my favourite shoes, the Nike Yeezy Red October sneakers.”
The shoes also happen to be a collaboration between a hip hop artist and a major brand, in this case Kanye West and Nike.
Cassper made three other demands: “It has to be fast because I’m a very impatient person, so the Internet also has to be fast. It should take good pics because I travel a lot and I like to capture moments. And it has to have serious battery life.”
The result is a 4G phone with a 5.5” display, 13MP rear camera and f/2.4 aperture, 1.5GHz Octa-core processor, and a fast-charging battery.
The founder of AG Mobile, Anthony Goodman, was happy to oblige.
“We were keen to follow the specs Cassper wanted, because it leads to what the consumer wants,” he said. “It wasn’t challenging, because it’s something we wanted to do: we wanted a high speed phone for a social media consumer, and the rest had to follow suit. We all worked together to make sure it happened.”
Bring your network with you
At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.
In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.
Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.
“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.
The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.
Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.
“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.
He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”
By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.
The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.
Kaspersky moves to Switzerland
As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.
This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.
Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world
The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.
The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.
Relocation of customer data storage and processing
By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.
Relocation of software assembly
Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.
Establishment of the first Transparency Center
The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.
Independent supervision and review
Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.