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Massive PC slump in Africa

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) PC market experienced a 25.9% year-on-year decline in shipments in the first quarter 2016, according to Data Corporation (IDC).

Shipments to the region fell for the fourth consecutive quarter, to total 3.2 million units. Notebooks recorded a sharp 28.7% decline in shipments to total 1.9 million units, while desktop shipments registered a comparatively slower decline, falling by 21.4% year on year to total 1.3 million units.

“All the largest markets in the region declined in Q1 2016,” says Senior Research Manager Fouad Charakla, Personal Computing, Systems, and Infrastructure Solutions, IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “The reasons differ from country to country, but slowdowns in tourist spending, lower consumer confidence resulting from low oil prices, political and economic instability, currency devaluations, and military conflicts have all played a part in the regional contraction. The ongoing shift in end-user spending toward smartphones and, to a lesser extent, tablets in the consumer segment was also a key element in the market’s decline.”

Similar to previous quarters, the positions of the top three vendors remained unchanged in Q1 2016. Despite experiencing a year-on-year decline of 23.4% in shipments, HP remained the market leader, securing the highest market share ever attained by a PC vendor in the region over the past 10 years. Second-placed Lenovo registered a slightly deeper year-on-year decline of 25.2%, while third-placed Dell suffered the sharpest decline of all vendors, recording a 28.9% fall in shipments. Meanwhile, fourth-ranked Acer was the only vendor to experience growth in the region, with a 2.2% year-on-year increase in shipments. However, the gap in terms of the market share of the top four vendors remains significant. In fifth place, Asus suffered a year-on-year decline of 7.3% in shipments during the first quarter of the year.

“With the approach of the holy month of Ramadan combined with the usual summer slowdown in activity, the second quarter of 2016 is also expected to record a decline in shipments, albeit a much softer one,” continues Charakla. “In the longer term, the PC market is expected to recover to some extent in 2017, with modest growth anticipated in the following years. Shipments to Africa are expected to grow slightly faster than shipments to the Middle East. Some substantial desktop orders were secured by local brands in Egypt and Algeria during Q1 2016, and there were also a number of large education sector deliveries that took place in smaller African markets during the quarter, such as in Rwanda, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast.”

As highlighted in IDC’s previous forecasts, there will continue to be a gradual shift in the pattern of demand from consumers to commercial customers, as a growing proportion of home users switch from PCs to tablets and smartphones, while commercial end users retain a stronger loyalty to PCs. The only exception to this trend will be the education sector, where commercial users will transition from PCs to tablets at a much faster rate. Despite this anomaly, commercial demand for PCs in the region is expected to surpass that of home users by 2018.

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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