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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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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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