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

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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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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