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Panel TV sales soar in SA

Black Friday saw sales of flat screen TVs grow by 66% over the same day last year.

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Panel television sales soared in South Africa during Black Friday week, climbing by 66% to just over 93,000 units when compared to the same week in 2017, according to point of sale tracking data from GfK South Africa’s Weekly Monitor. This builds on the 47% growth over 2016 recorded during the week of Black Friday in 2017.

Retailers sold around 29,000 panel televisions in the week of Cyber Monday (the week after Black Friday), indicating that Black Friday deals are rapidly taking over more of the month of November. On average, retailers sold around 16,000 units per week in the weeks preceding the week of Black Friday.

Over the week of Black Friday, smartphone unit sales grew by around 3.9% compared to the same week last year to just over 350,000 units. This represents a sharp drop in growth from 2017, when smartphone unit sales for the Black Friday week leapt 63% over the same week of 2016. Around 308,000 smartphone units were sold the week after Black Friday 2018. During the weeks preceding Black Friday, South African retailers sold an average of 220,000 smartphone units a week.

“Hype about panel television sales has definitively shifted from December to November as consumers look out for the best Black Friday deals before committing their money,” says Kali Moahloli, Head of Sales & Retail, at GfK South Africa. “Compared to two Black Fridays ago, 2018 Black Friday panel TV sales have grown by 151% in units.”

Other highlights from GfK’s point of sale data for Black Friday week include:

  • Entry-level smartphones (less than R1000) accounted for 36.5% of units sold, but only 8.4% of the value of smartphone sales during Black Friday week.
  • Premium phones (R7000 and above) accounted for a mere 8.5% of unit sales, but comprised 43.6% of the value of sales rung up during Black Friday week.
  • Intermediate and mid-tier units (R1000 to R6999) made up 55% of unit sales and around 48% of the value of smartphone sales recorded during Black Friday week.
  • Entry-level models (less than R3000) had a 42.8% share of panel TV unit sales, but accounted for only 19.7% of revenues for Black Friday week.
  • Premium models (R6500 and above) made up a quarter of panel TV unit sales during Black Friday week 2018 and more than half (52.7%) of panel TV revenues for the week.
  • Mid-tier and intermediate models (R3000-R6499) made up around a third of panel TV unit sales for the week and around 27.6% of revenues.

“Slower smartphone sales growth can be attributed to consumers taking strain from a weak economy and from the gradual saturation of the market,” says Moahloli. “December is traditionally a stronger month for smartphone sales than November, which is unlike the panel TV market where sales trend downwards after Black Friday. We could see good data deals from the operators help boost growth ahead of the festive season.”

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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