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PCs still fall in Mid-East, Africa

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) PC market experienced a mild decline of 1.8% year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in Q4 2016 to total 3.2 million units, according to IDC.

The decline stemmed from the desktop segment, as weak commercial demand saw shipments fall -10.0% Y-o-Y to total 1.2 million units for the quarter. Notebook shipments were up 3.6% to total 2 million units, driven primarily by demand from the consumer segment.

“The narrowing price gap between desktops and notebooks was one of the key factors driving this trend,” says Fouad Charakla, senior research manager for client devices at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “The gap narrowed because the overall notebook market average street price (ASP) experienced a considerable decline, while the desktop market ASP experienced marginal growth.

“The region’s single biggest market, Turkey, experienced significant growth year on year, as vendors continued to push volumes into the market, catering to demand from year-end festivities, and companies continued to liquidate their budgets, some of which went towards IT investments. At the same time, there was a spate of government-driven initiatives aimed at triggering a positive outlook for the country’s economy, and this also helped spur PC demand.

“Other key markets, namely South Africa, the UAE and the Rest of Middle East (comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Afghanistan), all remained close to flat, while Saudi Arabia experienced a Y-o-Y decline. With the Kingdom’s heavy dependence on oil combining with low oil prices, government spending in the country continues to be constrained, which is causing a similar spillover effect on other sectors as well.”

The top vendor rankings remained unchanged, with all top five vendors maintaining their positions from the previous quarter. The top three vendors combined, namely HP Inc, Dell, and Lenovo, accounted for almost 73% of commercial demand for PCs in the region during Q4 2016, which validates their decision to focus largely on serving the commercial segment. Conversely, the other key market players in the region remain largely focused on addressing consumer demand.

As was the case in previous quarters, the overall market share of local assemblers in the MEA region continued to contract as a growing portion of end users opted for multinational brands, with some even shifting towards refurbished PCs.

Middle East & Africa PC Market – Vendor Shares, Q4 2015 vs. Q4 2016
Vendor Q4 2015 Q4 2016
HP Inc. 25.1% 26.3%
Lenovo 19.5% 20.5%
Dell 14.5% 14.0%
ASUS 7.2% 8.7%
Acer Group 4.8% 5.7%
Others 29.0% 24.8%

Source: IDC EMEA Quarterly PC Tracker, Q4 2016

HP continued to lead the MEA PC market in Q4 2016 in terms of share, after experienced a slight increase in overall shipments. Despite suffering a decline in commercial shipments, the vendor continued to comfortably dominate the commercial segment. Lenovo led the consumer space in terms of unit share, while Dell experienced a strengthening of its position in the commercial space and a loss of traction among home users.

Taiwanese vendors Asus and Acer placed fourth and fifth, respectively, with both experiencing strong Y-o-Y growth. The most significant increases for both vendors were seen in the ‘Rest of Middle East’ market. While it features much further down the vendor rankings ladder and is growing from a small base, i-life experienced the strongest shipment growth Y-o-Y. With a sub-$200 price point on the majority of its products, the UAE-based vendor has been able to catapult itself to notable market share in the region.

“With crude oil prices not showing any signs of strong growth in the near future, PC demand in several parts of the region is expected to suffer,” says Charakla. “This will include Nigeria, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and several other Gulf countries, as well as some countries within the Rest of Middle East sub-region. Exchange-rate fluctuations and currency weaknesses continue to be another key inhibitor in several countries across the region and are expected to hinder PC demand over the coming quarters. Two of the most affected countries in this respect are Nigeria and Egypt.”

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Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards

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The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.

The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”

Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever AwardShe has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).

The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:

SPORT

The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognitionAge cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.

Click here to see who won the awards for data journalism , CSI/sustainability and photography.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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