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CES: Samsung, ASUS, MSI lead in innovation awards

On the eve of the CES tech expo in Las Vegas, more than 300 gadgets were honoured for outstanding design and engineering, but a few brands stole the show, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



A computer gaming equipment maker was one of the surprise standouts in the CES 2020 Innovation Awards, announced in the lead-up to the CES event in Las Vegas next week.

MSI, the leading gaming brand, was edged out by Samsung and ASUS for most awards won. However, given the relative size of the three companies, the show represented a triumph for MSI. It took eight awards, primarily in the Computer Hardware & Components, Gaming and Computer Peripherals & Accessories categories, but also spreading its wings into Digital Imaging and Photography.

Samsung led the way with 11 awards, followed by ASUS on 9 awards. Again, their relative size made this the ASUS year at CES: it generates around $12-billion a year in sales, compared to Samsung’s $220-billion. MSI is the minnow here, at less than $4-billion.

Samsung dominated Mobile Devices & Accessories, winning awards for the Galaxy A50, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Note 10 and 10+, and Galaxy S10. It also took honours for its Front Load Washer in the Smart Home section, and for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 across three categories: the Fitness & Sports, Health & Wellness, and Wearable Technologies.

ASUS saw its Zenbook range starring, with the Zenbook 15, Flip 15 and Pro Duo winning in the Computer Hardware & Components category. It also won several Mobile Devices & Accessories awards, but did not make an impact in the Gaming section, despite its Kumnai Gamepad winning a Mobile Devices prize.

Other notable winners were Acer, for its C250i projector in the Computer Peripherals & Accessories category and the Swift 5 in Computer Hardware & Components; Dell’s Alienware for its Aurora R9 and m15 computers, both in the Gaming section; and Dell itself, in Computer Hardware & Components, for an innovative stand, and Digital Imaging or Photography, for a high-end monitor.

The relatively new Chinese audio brand 1More made a splash in the Headphones & Personal Audio, taking three awards for wireless earphones and headphones. 

Albicchiere from beexlab will probably attract more attention at CES, if it decides to offer samples of its wares. It won an award in the Home Appliances category for the Albi Home M, a smart wine dispenser which “allows consumers to enjoy wine at the highest level, serving them a perfect glass of wine: at the ideal temperature and always as if it were just opened”. Albi Home M is the first version for private consumers.

Our choice for the best innovation previewed so far is something a little less frivolous.  Code Jumper, by American Printing House for the Blind, is a response to the reality that the tools used to teach computer coding to young children are highly visual, using drag-and-drop of coloured blocks on screens to create animations. Of course, this puts such tools out of reach of the blind or visually impaired. 

Code Jumper was developed by Microsoft to teaches children aged 7 to 11, computer coding skills – regardless of their level of vision. Distributed by American Printing House for the Blind, it allows children to learn basic programming concepts, and to solve challenge in multiple ways.

The system uses small pods that can be connected to build strands of code, and change sounds to create stories. The colours and shapes of the pods allow them to be identified by sight or touch. 

“Code Jumper is inclusive and can be used in any classroom,” says the American Printing House for the Blind. “Testing has shown Code Jumper just as effective with children who are sighted, or have other disabilities as it is with children who are blind or visually impaired. With Code Jumper all students can learn together — much as they will in the professional world — building skills including confidence, cooperation and critical thinking.”

Now that is innovation.


Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC



International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

2018 Market
2023 Market
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s



Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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