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Tablets decline in Africa

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market declined 12.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016 to total 3.32 million units, according to the latest figures from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global research and consulting services firm’s ‘Middle East and Africa Quarterly Tablet Tracker’ indicates that the MEA tablet market contracted on a year-on-year basis for the second quarter in a row, following the 8.8% year-on-year decline seen in Q4 2015.

“We are finding that consumers are increasingly reluctant to replace their existing devices as the majority of tasks that were previously performed on tablets have now shifted to smartphones with larger screens,” says Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC. “This reluctance has resulted in a lengthening of tablet replacement cycles, a phenomenon that has inevitably had a negative impact on overall demand.

“Compounding the issue is the fact that consumer sentiment and business activity are both being hampered by low crude oil prices, particularly in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Meanwhile, the continued depreciation of key African currencies against the U.S. dollar – including the Nigerian naira, the South African rand, and the Egyptian pound – has also acted as an inhibitor, as poor exchange rates make tablets more expensive.”

One bright spot amid the market’s overall slowdown is the growth of detachable tablets, which are steadily gaining popularity in the region following the launch of various new devices in this product category. Detachable tablets now account for 4.2% share of the overall tablet market, with shipments up by a staggering 335% year on year in Q1 2016.

“All vendors are feeling the pinch from the slowdown,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, a senior research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC. “Considering the thin margins on the lower-end products that account for the bulk of demand, vendors are unwilling to offer any further support to channels, leading to a decline in shipments across the region. As certain entry-level tablet models are available at price points below $50, key players are under intense pressure to maintain their sell outs.”

In terms of vendor rankings, Samsung – which has the widest tablet portfolio – continued to lead the market in Q1 2016 with 21.2% share, despite suffering a year-on-year decline in shipments of 23.3%. After a sluggish performance in Q4 2015, Lenovo retook second place with 12.3% share, despite posting a 21.7% year-on-year decline in shipments. Apple rounded out the top three with 11.5% share after posting an 11.0% decline in shipments.

IDC has revised its forecast for the 2016 MEA tablet market downwards and now expects a total of 14.9 million units to be shipped in the year, representing a year-on-year decline of 7.9%. The Windows operating system is expected to register healthy growth during the year in line with the growth in detachable devices. IDC expects shipments of detachable tablets, the bulk of which run on Windows, to grow 127.7% year on year in 2016.

“IDC expects the delivery of multiple projects involving high volumes of tablets to take place in Pakistan and Egypt this year,” continues Charakla. “Projects in the former will see the shipment of approximately 200,000 detachable tablets, while projects in the latter are expected to involve the shipment of around 40,000 traditional slate tablets. The deal in Pakistan is to be delivered to the education sector and will contribute significantly to the growth of detachable tablets in the MEA market.”

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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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