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Inside Netflix: Quest for content will sweep Africa

In the second of a series of behind-the-scenes reports from Netflix studios, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers an appetite for new stories.

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It may have started out as a better way to rent movies, but now Netflix is revolutionising the entire American film and TV industries. That’s not news. The next big shift, however, is likely to be the transformation of content production worldwide, and Africa is squarely in the Netflix sights.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, chief product officer Greg Peters said that South Africa and Nigeria were among the many key markets in which it expected to make significant investments in content.

Greg Peters at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re looking to increasingly find storytellers from around the world, especially ones who haven’t been able to tell the story they want because traditional production partners are not willing to tell it, or they can’t find a big enough audience,” he said.

“Our job is to provide a platform, both a production platform, and then a distribution platform, because we are really good at finding audiences that are much much bigger than any storyteller has ever been able to find before. We’re going to invest in every part of the world, including Africa.”

Peters emphasised the need for fresh stories, as opposed to those that repeated traditionally popular formulae.

“We feel like it’s exciting that we don’t have a lot of restrictions. We want compelling stories, a strong vision, authentic story telling, that can come from a whole different range of formats. To open up storytelling in ways that was not opened before.”

Peters was speaking at the end of a two-day Netflix event called Labs Day, which exposed a small group of media from around the world to the inner workings of the business.

Peters revealed that, when he joined Netflix in 2008, he was just one of eight people working on streaming. At that stage, the company was making most of its money from distributing movies on DVD through the mail, with subscriptions and orders managed entirely on the Web.

Click here to read about how Netflix was founded, what it meant to competitors, and what Netflix means to traditional pay-TV.

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PC sales crash as virus hits

COVID-19 is now an integral element of forecasting of computer sales, as the impact of coronavirus begins to be felt in the supply chain

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Overall shipments of personal computing devices (PCD) will decline 9% in 2020, reaching 374.2-million by the end of this year, as a result of the impact of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on manufacturing, logistics and sales.

According to new projections from the Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker,  International Data Corporation (IDC) has lowered its forecast for PCDs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets. 

The long-term forecast still remains slightly positive, with global shipments forecast to grow to 377.2-million in 2024, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.2%. However, this is based on an IDC assumption that the spread of the virus will recede in 2020. Since the figure represents only marginal growth, the ongoing impact of the virus could quickly reduce long-term forecasts into negative expectations. IDC did not provide alternative scenarios should this occur.

The decline in 2020 is attributed to two significant factors; the Windows 7 to Windows 10 transition creates tougher year-over-year growth comparisons from here on out and, more recently, the spread of COVID-19 is hampering supply and leading to reduced demand. As a result, IDC forecasts a decline of 8.2% in shipments during the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20), followed by a decline of 12.7% in 2Q20 as the existing inventory of components and finished goods from the first quarter will have been depleted by the second quarter. In the second half of the year, growth rates are expected to improve, though the market will remain in decline.

“We have already forgone nearly a month of production given the two-week extension to the Lunar New Year break and we expect the road to recovery for China’s supply chain to be long with a slow trickle of labour back to factories in impacted provinces until May when the weather improves,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays. “Many critical components such as panels, touch sensors, and printed circuit boards come out of these impacted regions, which will cause a supply crunch heading into Q2.”

“There’s no doubt that 2020 will remain challenged as manufacturing levels are at an all-time low and even the products that are ready to ship face issues with logistics,” added Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “Lost wages associated with factory shutdowns and the overall reduction in quality of life will further the decline in the second half of the year as demand will be negatively impacted.”

Assuming the spread of the virus subsides in 2020, IDC anticipates minor growth in 2021 as the market returns to normal with growth stemming from modern form factors such as thin and light notebooks, detachable tablets, and convertible laptops. Many commercial organizations are expected to refresh their devices and move towards these modern form factors in an effort to attract and retain a younger workforce. Meanwhile, consumer demand in gaming, as well as the rise in cellular-enabled PCs and tablets, will also help provide a marginal uplift.

Worldwide Topline Personal Computing Device Forecast Changes, Year-Over-Year Growth %, 2020-2021 (Annual)

Product Category Forecast Version 2020
Shipments (M)
2020 Year-Over-
Year Growth
2021
Shipments (M)
2021 Year-Over-
Year Growth
2021 Year-Over-
Year Growth
Total Traditional PCs 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 248.0 -7.1% 251.2 1.3% 1.3%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 252.4 -4.6% 248.3 -1.6% -1.6%
Total Tablets 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 126.2 -12.4% 125.4 -0.6% -0.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 127.8 -10.8% 125.2 -2.0% -2.0%
Total Personal Computing Devices 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 374.2 -9.0% 376.6 0.6% 0.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 380.2 -6.8% 373.5 -1.8% -1.8%

Worldwide Topline Personal Computing Device Forecast Changes, Year-Over-Year Growth %, 2020 (Quarterly)

Product Category Forecast Version 1Q20 2Q20 3Q20 4Q20
Total Traditional PCs 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 -6.4% -10.3% -6.4% -5.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 -2.0% -6.8% -5.7% -3.5%
Total Tablets 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 -11.8% -17.5% -15.0% -6.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 -8.1% -10.7% -16.3% -7.8%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, February 19, 2020

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The chip that will drive the 5G smartphone era

No less than 15 manufacturers have announced they will use Qualcomm’s new mobile platform to power the first wave of 2020 5G smartphones

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Qualcomm Technologies has announced that 15 global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and brands have selected the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform for their 5G device launches this year. The OEMs are ASUS, Black Shark, Fujitsu, iQOO, Lenovo, Nubia, OPPO, realme, Redmi, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE.

The company made the announcement at a media event in San Diego this week under the banner, “What’s Next in 5G”.

Qualcomm described the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform as “the world’s most advanced mobile platform, designed to deliver the unmatched connectivity and performance required for the next wave of flagship devices”. It features the company’s second-generation 5G Modem-RF System, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55, while redefining Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth audio with the Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem. The  865 enables premium devices with breakthrough features, from Gigapixel-speed photography and Elite Gaming with desktop-level features, to intelligent and intuitive experiences due to the 5th generation Qualcomm AI Engine.

“As the world’s leading wireless technology innovator, we are committed to driving and scaling 5G to the consumer,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile at Qualcomm Technologies. “This year, the Snapdragon 865 will help make 5G accessible to billions of smartphone users around the world, further enabling immersive mobile experiences like high-speed gaming, intelligent multi-camera capture and all-day battery life.”

Qualcomm says that, after introducing the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform in December 2019, more than 70 designs have been announced or are in development based on the platform. Additionally, more than 1,750 designs have been announced or are in development based on the Snapdragon 8-series mobile platforms. Smartphones announced or coming soon based on the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, include:

  • Black Shark 3*
  • FCNT arrows 5G*
  • iQOO 3*
  • Legion Gaming Phone*
  • Nubia Red Magic 5G*
  • OPPO Find X2*
  • realme X50 Pro*
  • Redmi K30 Pro*
  • ROG Phone 3*
  • Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra
  • Sharp AQUOS R5G*
  • Sony Xperia 1 II*
  • vivo APEX 2020 Concept Phone*
  • Xiaomi Mi 10* and Mi 10 Pro*
  • ZenFone 7*
  • ZTE Axon 10s Pro*

*Features Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem

For more information, visit the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform Product Page.

Read more about new 5G technologies unveiled by Qualcomm this week.

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