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Tech names new top brands

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Interbrand has named Apple, Google, and Microsoft as the three most valuable brands in its 2017 Best Global Brands ranking, with technology as the dominant sector.

Now in its 18th year, this report’s theme is Growth in a Changing World, and examines three key components: People, Technology and Brands.

“We are living in one of the most exciting periods of change—societal, technological, industrial—that impacts every aspect of commerce and life,” said Jez Frampton, Global Chief Executive Officer of Interbrand. “In this ever-shifting context, growth becomes more challenging, which is why businesses need brands more than ever. The Best Global Brands understand that brands are the platform for growth.”

For five consecutive years, Apple and Google hold the top positions. Apple’s brand value grew by 3 percent to USD $184,154m, as Google’s brand value grew by 6 percent to USD $141,703m. Microsoft jumps into #3, as one of sixteen brands with double-digit percent growth. Following Coca-Cola at #4, sits Amazon, Samsung, Toyota, and Facebook, which breaks into the Top 10 for the first-time at #8. Mercedes-Benz, and IBM round out the Top 10.

The five Top Growing Brands include Facebook (48 percent growth) who leads for the second year running, Amazon (29 percent), Adobe (19 percent), Adidas (17 percent), and Starbucks (16 percent).

More than half of the Best Global Brands came from four sectors: Automotive (16), Technology (15), Financial Services (12), and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (9). Retail is the top growing sector in percentage terms (19%), followed by Sporting Goods (10%), Technology (8%), Logistics (7%), and Financial Services (6%).

The Top 100 brands have a combined total value of USD $1,871,730m, an increase of 4.2% from 2016. For the complete Top 100 ranking and the report with comprehensive analysis of growth, sector and industry trends, visit www.bestglobalbrands.com.

Methodology

Interbrand’s 18th annual report analyzes how brands grow in a changing world, showing that using technology at scale to deliver intimate human experiences, will help drive economic growth value. This methodology was the first brand valuation method to become ISO certified.

The ranking is based on three key components that contribute to a brand’s cumulative value:

  • The financial performance of the branded products and services
  • The role the brand plays in influencing customer choice
  • The strength the brand has to command a premium price or secure earnings for the company

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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