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Global smartphone sales stable

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Smartphones will again occupy nearly half of the consumer budget for tech and durable goods in 2020 and will generate a total turnover of €444 billion. The demand for smartphones is expected to stay stable in 2020, after a slight decline of two percent in units in 2019. GfK experts estimate that in 2020 more than 1.37 billion smartphones will be sold globally. However, depending on the impact of the coronavirus on global supply chains and production capacities, the demand could be significantly slowed. These are GfK findings for the global smartphone market. 

“Impressing the consumers with groundbreaking innovations has been a challenge in recent years. Especially when it comes to the market for smartphones” says Pavlin Lazarov, GfK expert for Telecom. “The interaction with what is probably the most personal device has increased to such high levels and with it the expectation for its hardware and performance. One can say that premium and performance have now become the standard. Nevertheless, consumers are waiting with bated breath, for new models and flagships to hit the market, bearing in mind that four out of five smartphones sold in 2019 were launched in the same year. Exciting the consumers with the right value-for-money can be a successful strategy.”

From features to benefits to experiences

Innovations have been defining the smartphone market over the years and this is the area where easy-to-grasp improvements are taking place. Following the mantra “the more, the better” the smartphone features continue to offer more and improved capabilities. The share of smartphones with a display of at least 6” has reached 70 percent in unit terms in 2019, up from a share of 24 percent in 2018. Results from GfK global consumer surveys show that despite the cloud storage services, consumers consider the internal storage as the most important feature when choosing a smartphone. This explains why 37 percent of all smartphones sold in 2019 have 128GB of storage or more. 

Half of the consumers point out to the battery life as one of the most important features when buying a new smartphone. As a result, 38 percent of the smartphones sold in 2019 had a battery capacity of at least 4,000 mAh. Performance speed and battery life are also crucial for 44 percent of consumers, who use smartphones for gaming. At the end of the day, the benefits from the features should transform into rich experiences, which consumers are expecting and appreciating while using smartphones. 

Status Quo of 5G in 2019

One of the major technological advances, which is closely related to performance and experiences, is 5G. In 2019 more than ten brands already offered 5G smartphones in their assortments. The spread of 5G is highly dependent on the country telecom infrastructure. In South Korea one third of all smartphones sold in Q4 2019 were 5G-ready, while that share was at around two percent in Great Britain and Australia. The biggest smartphone market, namely China, is quickly catching up, with eight percent of all sold products in December 2019 already generated by 5G models. 

Convenience and simplification as further growth drivers

Consumers are continuously looking for ways to improve their comfort and well-being together with simplifying their daily interactions. These trends are strongly reflected in wearable devices, which achieved a robust unit growth of 28 percent in 2019. The increase in value terms was even more pronounced, reaching over 40 percent, driven by the high demand for smartwatches and wrist sport computers. With consumers increasingly concerned about their health, the introduction of functionalities such as blood pressure and blood oxygen measurement are gaining traction.

Having entertainment on-the-go and listening to their favorite music has long been part of the consumer’s interaction with their mobile devices. One of the latest developments in this regard comes from the true wireless earbuds, which have achieved a triple-digit increase in 2019. Nearly every second headset sold on the market in 2019 was true wireless, which is twice as high as their share in 2018. This market has attracted many new players, with more than 30 brands generating 80 percent of all units sold in 2019 globally.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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