Earlier this week, Airbnb was officially launched in South Africa. The service offers users a marketplace to list, discover and book accommodation around the world – all online and even from a mobile phone.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky visited Johannesburg for the first time this week to launch Airbnb’s platform officially in South Africa, and announce the company’s plans to accelerate its growth in the country, its largest market on the continent.
He also announced that Airbnb had appointed Nicola D’Elia as General Manager for the region. Previously, Nicola was responsible for Facebook’s growth and partnerships in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. D’Elia will build out a team to accelerate Airbnb’s growth in Africa and the Middle East.
“South Africa is an incredibly beautiful and diverse country, with so much to offer visitors,” Chesky said. “We have a vibrant and welcoming community here, which we look forward to expanding so that even more visitors can benefit from the unique and local experiences our hosts provide.”
Some notable statistics reflecting Airbnb’s growth in the country over the last 12 months include:
· South Africa is currently the largest market for Airbnb in Africa with 9,400 homes listed, an increase of 138% in a year.
· South Africa is becoming an increasingly popular global destination, with the number of people staying in places booked through Airbnb in South Africa increasing by a massive 257%.
· South Africans are embracing the service as well, with those using Airbnb to travel increasing by 163%.
· While most South Africans that have used Airbnb have traveled within the country, the most popular international destinations include the US, Italy, France and the UK.
· Across Africa, two of the five largest markets for Airbnb are in South Africa, namely Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, is an online marketplace that allows travellers to connect with people who have spare space in their homes. For travellers, the chance to book and stay in someone’s home offers the chance to experience a destination like a local. For homeowners, Airbnb offers the potential to meet and host people from all around the world, as well as making some valuable extra income.
Founded in San Francisco in 2008, there are now more than 1.5 million homes available to book through Airbnb worldwide and more than 45 million people have travelled with the service globally. This summer, on a peak night, close to one million people will be staying in an Airbnb worldwide.
Prior to traveling to Johannesburg, Brian Chesky attended the Global Entrepreneurial Summit (GES 2015) in Nairobi alongside President Obama. As a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), Brian Chesky is one of a number of US business leaders committed to helping to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world. At GES 2015, he met with entrepreneurs from around the world and explored the sharing economy’s impact and expansion throughout Africa.
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.
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.
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.
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.