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Tablets decline in MEA

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market declined 8.8% year on year in the final quarter of 2015 to total 4.05 million units, according to the latest figures announced by International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global IT research and consulting services firm’s ‘Middle East and Africa Quarterly Tablet Tracker’ shows that for 2015 as a whole, tablet shipments in MEA declined 3.1% year on year to total 16.2 million units, worldwide tablet market which has declined by 9.9%.

“The largest vendors are feeling the pinch of saturation in many countries across the Middle East, and low consumer confidence in oil-dependent economies is driving down demand,” says Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “In addition, the bigger screen sizes of today’s smartphones continue to cannibalize spending on traditional slate tablets.”

The growth of detachable tablets is one of the bright spots in the MEA tablet market, with shipments of such devices growing 95.4% year on year in 2015 and IDC forecasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.3% through 2020. The growth of detachables will further drive the growth of the Windows operating system at the expense of Android and iOS. “Detachables primarily run on Windows, and end users are increasingly looking at these devices as an alternative for traditional notebooks,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, senior program manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “Adoption rates are currently still low, but demand for detachable tablets is going to increase exponentially over the coming years from enterprises and consumers alike.”

“Much of the demand for bigger vendors like Samsung and Lenovo stems from their entry-level models,” says Dogra. “But there is growing competition in this segment of the market from smaller vendors that are happy to operate at much lower margins. This is forcing the bigger vendors to cut their prices in order to remain competitive, which is eroding their margins and pushing the market’s average selling price down even further.”

In terms of vendor rankings, Samsung – which has the broadest tablet portfolio – continued to lead the MEA tablet market in Q4 2015 with 21.4% share, a year-on-year decline of 0.1%. Despite suffering a 22.1% year-on-year decline in shipments, Apple overtook Lenovo to take second place with 11.2% share. The iPad Pro, which was slated to boost Apple’s share of the MEA tablet market, received a meek response in the region. Lenovo saw its share fall from 13.0% in Q3 2015 to 9.9% in Q4 2015 to rank third in the MEA tablet market. The vendor experienced major declines in some of its key markets including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the ‘Rest of Middle East’ sub-region.

IDC has revised its forecast for the 2016 MEA tablet market downwards and now expects a total of 16.52 million units to be shipped for the year, representing a year-on-year growth of 2.0%. “Consumer sentiment is expected to remain low, particularly in oil-dependent economies,” says Charakla. “Africa is expected to grow faster when compared to the Middle East, due to the current lower tablet penetration rates in Africa leaving more room for growth.”

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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