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PCs, tablets, decline 5% in Middle East and Africa

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets, declined 5.0% year on year in Q4 2018, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC). The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly PCD Tracker shows that shipments fell to around 5.6 million units for the three-month period.

“The biggest driver of demand in Q4 2018 was a massive delivery of over 600,000 tablets into Egypt’s education sector, which saw the overall MEA market outperform previous forecasts for the quarter,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “This deal helped prevent what would otherwise have been a sharp decline in overall shipments to the region. The regional market was also buoyed by the strong performance of PCs in Saudi Arabia and a significant notebook deal that took place in the UAE.”

IDC’s research shows that the biggest declines in Q4 2018 were seen in Turkey and the ‘Rest of the Middle East’ group of countries, comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Palestine). “The weak exchange rate of the Turkish lira against other currencies continues to inflate the cost of imported goods, making computing devices expensive for the country’s end users,” says Charakla. “Meanwhile, Iran, which accounts for the largest share of ‘Rest of the Middle East’ grouping, continues to suffer under the weight of U.S. sanctions. These sanctions have made it difficult for organizations in other countries to trade with Iranian businesses, negatively impacting the supply of personal computing devices into the country.”

The top three vendors in the regional PC market maintained their respective positions, with each of them gaining share on the corresponding quarter of 2017.

Middle East & Africa PC Market Vendor Shares – Q4 2017 vs. Q4 2018

 Company Q4 2017 Q4 2018
 HP Inc. 28.9% 32.3%
Lenovo 19.5% 20.7%
Dell 14.9% 17.1%
Others 36.8% 29.9%

In the tablet segment, the massive education deal in Egypt saw Samsung more than double its market share in the region year on year and maintain its position in top spot. Apple climbed up to number two, while Huawei dropped to number three.

Middle East & Africa Tablet Market Vendor Shares – Q4 2017 vs. Q4 2018

 Company Q4 2017 Q4 2018
 Samsung 17.9% 37.9%
 Apple 11.2% 8.3%
 Huawei 12.3% 7.7%
 Others 58.7% 46.1%

Looking ahead, IDC expects overall PCD shipments into the MEA region to total 19.5 million units for 2019 as a whole. Currency-related issues in both Turkey and the ‘Rest of the Middle East’ grouping will continue to inhibit demand in those countries. On the flip side, a number of large-scale education projects are under discussion in several countries across the region; however, given the uncertainty surrounding these projects in terms of timeline, volume, and financial challenges, IDC has not reflected most of the larger initiatives in its forecast.

Looking further ahead, the overall PCD market is expected to remain close to flat over coming years, with PCs experiencing very slow growth and tablets experiencing a gradual decline. Given the growing use of smartphones and the corresponding shift away from PCs and tablets, it is unrealistic to expect either segment to return to the shipment volumes seen several years ago.

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Google announces its ‘Netflix for gaming’

The new gaming platform, Stadia, promises high-definition gaming on TVs, computers, and mobile devices, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Google has announced that it has moved into the gaming space, and it focuses on two big aspects of gaming: streaming of games for gamers, which will allow gamers to game anywhere with a fast, low-latency Internet connection; and audiences that watch gamers in-game.

This is a big move in making gaming accessible to more gamers, as it reduces hardware costs, by utilising the benefits of low-latency cloud computing. This will be achieved by using a globally connected network of Google data centres. Gamers who stream games are most likely already using a high-speed, low-latency Internet connection, so access to the Stadia platform will be an added expense.

Through the Stadia platform, gamers will be able to access a large library of games at all times, with no installation time, on virtually any screen. Scaling of hardware like CPU, GPU, memory, and storage is also possible, as one would for cloud server resources.

Google will be leveraging its other platforms, like YouTube, with Stadia streaming. It claims that 200-million people are watching game-related content daily on YouTube. This allows, for example, Stadia players to jump in with other Stadia players – no downloads, no updates, no patches, and no installs.

For console players, Google has designed a custom controller.

The controller was designed to establish a direct connection from the Stadia controller to Google’s data centre through Wi-Fi for the best possible gaming performance. The controller also includes a button for instant capture, saving, and sharing gameplay in 4K resolution. It sports a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone, as many Google products do, for voice control. 

The device is expected to be released later this year, pending FCC approval.

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Nintendo announces Stranger Things 3 game

The Netflix Original show is set to launch a retro-style game on the Nintendo Switch.

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In collaboration with Netflix, developer BonusXP has created Stranger Things 3: The Game. It is the official companion game to Season 3 of the hit original series. The game and latest season are expected to launch on US Independence Day, the 4th of July, a date that will, of course, stick in American gamers’ memories.

This adventure game blends a distinctively retro 16-bit art style, reminiscent of games from the time when the series was set. It is claimed to have modern gameplay mechanics to deliver nostalgic fun with a fresh new twist. Players will be able to experience their favourite show through a mix of exploration, puzzles, and combat.

Just ad in the show, teamwork is at the heart of Stranger Things 3: The Game. Players can team up in a two-player local co-operative, or in single player mode alongside an AI partner. Players can choose to play as one of twelve characters from the show, each with different abilities and attributes. Together, they’ll play through familiar events from the series, while also uncovering never-before-seen Stranger Things secrets, ensuring a fun experience for those new to the world of Stranger Things as well as for those familiar with the series.

Key Features:

  • Experience the show in a new way, exploring the eerie world of Hawkins to uncover new mysteries beyond what’s seen in Season 3.
  • Jump right into the action of this pick-up-and-play adventure: gameplay mechanics that allow players from beginner to advanced skill levels to get in on the fun.
  • Take your game to a higher level by trying out different character combinations and collecting all the secrets the expansive world of Hawkins has to offer.
  • Team up with a friend, leveraging drop-in/drop-out local co-op to take on the mysterious monsters of Hawkins together. While playing solo, use a collection of “buddy commands” to control both characters and still experience all the fun.
  • Choose from 12 playable characters, each with their own unique talents and stats.

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