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Samsung releases Gear S2 smartwatch

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Samsung has announced the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch. The device features a rotating bezel, features a round face and is the company’s latest offering in the wearable category.

The Samsung Gear S2 comes in a versatile, circular design with an intuitive, custom User Experience (UX) and advanced features that enable wearers to enhance, personalise and deliver more to their mobile experience. By simply rotating the bezel of the Gear S2, users can quickly and easily access a series of notifications and applications.

The Samsung Gear S2 has been launched with two different options – the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 classic – each designed to appeal to distinct consumer taste and preferences. The Gear S2 classic is made for users who prefer a more traditional watch design as it offers an elegant black finish with a matching genuine leather band. The Gear S2 is ideal for enthusiasts who love the minimal and modern design.

“The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s most progressive innovation. A perfect fit for any occasion, easily taking the user from day to night, from work to exercising at the gym – and ensuring that one gets more out of every moment in their day by making it smarter, personal and ultimately, more fun,” says Craige Fleischer, Director of Integrated Mobility at Samsung Electronics SA.

Purposeful Circular Design for Intuitive User Experience

The Samsung Gear S2 features an elegant circular display, along with premium finishes that reflects the aesthetic of a more familiar, traditional watch. The Gear S2’s unique rotating bezel, along with the Home and Back buttons, ensures customers have more comfortable and precise control with a quicker, more instinctive method to access notifications and applications than ever before.

A mere 11.4 mm thin, the Samsung Gear S2 brings a light and compact design to your wrist. It offers an incredibly vibrant view for a smartwatch due to its 1.2-inch circular screen and its 360 x 360 resolution (302 ppi (pixels per inch). The applications on the Gear S2 can be viewed with amazing clarity so that users won’t miss any prompt notifications pop-ups in their busy lives.

The band can be easily changed with one click, as well as the watch’s interface for a more personalised and sophisticated Gear experience depending on the time, place or occasion.

Thanks to the latest Tizen OS and a wearable optimised 1 GHz dual core processor, the Samsung Gear S2 performs tasks easily and efficiently.

Seamless Usability for Everyday Life

The Samsung Gear S2 is optimised for seamless, everyday use with enhanced wearable technologies. At-a-glance, consumers can stay connected with notifications to check calendars, e-mails, news or send important texts directly from their wrist – and with the Gear S2 offering 3G connectivity and the first e-SIM embedded wearable device with voice capability, users can do all that even when their phone isn’t close by.

New fitness functions on the Samsung Gear S2 encourage consumers to stay healthy and active. The 24-hour activity log allows daily activity progress and patterns to be viewed at a glance to stay on track of fitness goals. In addition, auto activity recognition updates the wearer to stay active.

For the ultimate convenience on-the-go, the Samsung Gear S2 comes with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that can enable consumers to make payments without the need for a wallet. In addition, Samsung is working with a wide selection of partners across different industries to expand wearable usability and streamline consumers’ mobile lives in a variety of ways, including smart car keys, residential room keys and remote controls that help manage a connected home.

All of these connected features are supported by a battery that can last up to 2-3 days, allowing people to stay connected without the hassle of constantly having to recharge. When it needs to be charged, simply place the Samsung Gear S2 on the wireless charging dock right.

Open Collaboration to Enrich Broader Eco-system

The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s commitment to open collaboration with developers to bring increased customisation, applications and control to its devices. Through these partnerships, Samsung is continuing to enrich its wearable ecosystem and provide users with a more optimised and unique smart wearable experience. Samsung is working closely with partners to offer a range of watch faces and bands to give consumers various ways to express their personal mood and style.

“Throughout the journey of bringing new innovations and concepts to the smart wearable market for the past several years, Samsung has bravely pioneered this category with its advanced wearable portfolio,” concludes Fleischer.

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Online retail gets real

After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.

Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.

The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.

This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping. 

But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.

On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.

He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.

According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.

In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature. 

Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.

A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand. 

In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.

Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.

It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time. 

It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.

Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.

The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.

Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.

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Reliable satellite Internet?

MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company. 

“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.

The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.

The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022. 

The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data. 

C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.

MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity.  Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.

Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.

Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online. 

“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”

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