As the world’s tech companies gathered this week in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, Brand Finance has released its annual review of the state of their brands, the Brand Finance Tech 100.
- Apple extends lead with record breaking US$145bn brand value
- Galaxy S6 restores Samsung’s brand rating to AAA
- Qualcomm takes brand value hit following Snapdragon 810 fiasco
- Uber enters table with US$11bn brand value
- WeChat grows brand value by 83%
Apple Not Rotten Yet
With a value of US$145, Apple remains the world’s most valuable brand. Despite annual predictions of a plateau or fall from grace, brand value is up 14%. Revenue for the last three months of 2015 was a record-breaking US$75.3 billion. Though there has been much disappointment about slowing growth, this must be seen in the context of an exceptional period at the end of 2014 following the release of the iPhone 6. To not just maintain but increase sales in a saturated market is encouraging and assertions that Apple has gone rotten are premature.
Snapdragon Leaves Qualcomm Red-Faced
Qualcomm is one of this year’s biggest losers in the technology table, brand value has taken a 17% dip whilst the brand rating has been downgraded from AA+ to AA. This is largely due to the fact that the company’s flagship processor, the Snapdragon 810, was nothing short of a disaster. Qualcomm’s highly anticipated processor was found to overheat and malfunction when subjected to heavier workloads. The issue was so critical that Samsung dropped the Qualcomm processor from its extremely popular Galaxy line. Qualcomm lost a year’s worth of orders from one its biggest clients, and the consequent damage to brand value is clear.
S6 & S7 Restore Samsung’s Image
Samsung’s brand rating, which indicates the strength and future potential of the brand, has been restored to AAA this year thanks in part to the positive reception of the Galaxy S6. Critics raved about the significantly improved design, which also put the Galaxy S6 on the radar of voguish iPhone users. The recently unveiled Galaxy S7 looks to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor but adds features such as water resistance, extended battery life and the sorely missed expandable storage option. Revenues have also improved this year, most of them coming from Samsung’s semiconductor business which produces chips for most smartphone manufacturers, including, ironically, their fiercest rival, Apple.
Uber Starts Well but has a Tough Road Ahead
Uber has firmly established itself in the top end of this year’s technology table with an impressive brand value of US$11bn. This makes the ride hailing app’s brand more valuable than industry giants such as Panasonic, Dell and Sony. However challenging times could lie ahead. Uber launched its new logo with great fanfare this year, however the colourful geometric shapes that make up the new identity failed to impress. Critics were quick to label the new logo ’unattractive’ and ‘ambiguous’. The backlash resulted in Uber’s head of design stepping down only a day after the new identity was revealed. Uber continues to face regulatory challenges in the west, as the company is bombarded with protests and lawsuits from taxi unions and transport authorities while in the east, the company struggles to turn a profit. This is largely due to fierce competitors, such as Didi Kuaidi, which is the favoured low-cost ride hailing company in China.
WeChat Nearly Doubles
WeChat increased its brand value by 83% this year, making it one of the fastest growing brands in the technology table. The messaging app, which also offers a payment platform, has seen rapid growth, with registered users totalling at an astonishing 1.1bn, out of which 100m are based outside of China. Tencent, the holding company that owns and operates WeChat, recently announced that WeChat will start charging its users for payment transactions in March 2016, a move that could boost revenues even higher.
The World’s Most Valuable Tech Brands (Top 10):
* Click on graph for an enlarged option.
Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh
In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.
When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.
This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy.
“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.
“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”
Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.
“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.
“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”
Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.
“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.
“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”
Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.
Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”
Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream
If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd
As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?
In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!
Nation-State Hacking & You
It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.
With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.
Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.
Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.
Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”
When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.”
Ignorance is not bliss
Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.
Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!