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CES: Segway whirrs into mobile future on S-Pod

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Today at CES in Las Vegas, Segway-Ninebot will try to make up for the damp squib that is the original Segway Transporter. It will unveil the Segway S-Pod, a smart transporting pod for enclosed campuses such as airports, theme parks and malls. 

It is described as “a safe, self-balancing vehicle that is operated by an intuitive assistive navigation panel”. Most observers have pointed out that it looks like the floating chairs in the animated movie Wall-E, implying a sedentary future for all while they are being entertained. However, the intention is transport rather than relaxation.

“With an adaptive centre-of-gravity automatic control system, passengers can easily adjust the speed – up to 24 mph – by handling the knob to change the centre of gravity in the pod,” said Segway-Ninebot in an announcement ahead of the event. “The S-Pod spins and rotates by the centre smoothly for directional changes. The rider does not need to physically lean forward and back to accelerate or slow down. Also, since the ‘brake’ is placed by the shift of the centre of gravity, it eliminates the possibility of the S-Pod tipping over in any situation.”

The seating of the S-Pod offers wide-angle views that provides an expansive viewing field of passengers. 

The announcement was imbued with a heavy sense of deja vu:  “The S-Pod is also the first step in Segway working towards their goal of bringing new transportation options to cities.”

That is almost precisely how the original Segway device was described. With a fundamental difference. The product was inspired by the Gyrosphere vehicles in Jurassic World.

Since the original transporters, Segway-Ninebot has re-positioned itself in short distance transportation, and has been a technology leader in the urban scooter revolution.

Luke Gao, CEO of Segway-Ninebot, said: “Segway-Ninebot has established itself as a category leader in short distance transportation solutions, from innovative delivery robots to kickscooters now used in cities across the world. We are changing the way people move from place to place. With an eye towards the future of how cities will evolve, as well as the mobility needs in the off-road space, we are notching up our offerings heading into 2020 so that they will fulfill the mobility needs and expectations of the world of tomorrow.”

The Segway S-Pod will be introduced at Segway’s CES booth # 25602 at Las Vegas Convention Center today, January 7, at 11am PT (9pm South African time).

The Segway S-Pod is a first-class smart transporting pod for enclosed campuses such as airports, theme parks and malls. It is a safe, self-balancing vehicle that is operated by an intuitive assistive navigation panel. With an adaptive center-of-gravity automatic control system, passengers can easily adjust the speed – up to 24 mph – by handling the knob to change the center of gravity in the pod. The S-Pod spins and rotates by the center smoothly for directional changes. The rider does not need to physically lean forward and back to accelerate or slow down. Also, since the “brake” is placed by the shift of the center of gravity, it eliminates the possibility of the S-Pod tipping over in any situation. The seating of the S-Pod offers wide angle views that provides an expansive viewing field of passengers. The S-Pod is also the first step in Segway working towards their goal of bringing new transportation options to cities. Segway S-Pod is equipped with remote control system through the detachable built-in pad. Another interesting tidbit—the Jurassic World Gyrosphere serves as the inspiration for this product. 

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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

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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)

Region2018
Shipments
2018 Market
Share
2023
Shipments*
2023 Market
Share*
2018-2023
CAGR*
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%
Total175.8100.0%332.9100.0%13.6%

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

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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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