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SA smartphone sales hit 13.5m in 2018, up 7%

The South African smartphone market grew solidly in 2018, with unit sales rising 7.2% and value up 13.2% to R35-billion.

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The South African smartphone market enjoyed solid growth in 2018, with unit sales rising 7.2% year-on-year to around 13.5 million and value growing 13.2% to just under R35 billion. That’s according to newly released point of sale tracking data from GfK South Africa’s Weekly Monitor, which also shows that unit sale growth for the important fourth quarter of the year declined 8.7% to 3.6 million units compared to Q4 2017.

GfK’s data for the year reveals that while the high-end smartphone segment (R6000 and above) accounted for 9,7% of smartphone unit sales during 2018, it contributed almost 50% in value. Low-end smartphones (R1499 and below) accounted for 61% of unit sales in 2018, but contributed just 17% to the value of the market. 

“South Africa’s smartphone market has fragmented into low, mid and high-end segments, with operators focusing for much of 2018 on driving volume sales in the entry-level and lower-end of the market and on average revenue per user (ARPU) and value at the high-end,” says Nicolet Pienaar, Product Manager at GfK South Africa.

“However, the dip in the fourth quarter indicates that operators chose to focus on value over unit sales over the Black Friday and Christmas period. Operators reduced or pulled subsidies on entry-level smartphones in the fourth quarter, which caused unit sales to contract,” says Kali Moahloli, Commercial Head for Market Insights at GfK South Africa. “This segment of the market remains price-sensitive rather than feature-driven.”

The panel television market enjoyed another good year of a growth against the backdrop of a weak market for technical consumer goods. Unit sales for 2018 were up 13% to 1.1 million year-on-year, while the value of the market was R6 billion, up nearly 7% on 2017.

Good sales over the Christmas and Black Friday periods helped to drive the growth of the market. For the fourth quarter, panel TV unit sales climbed 12.7% year-on-year to 378,000 and value increased 7.7% year-on-year to R2 billion. Ultrahigh definition technology, price drops and larger screen sizes influenced panel TV growth over Black Friday.

“Black Friday week is the annual seasonal peak for panel television sales in terms of both value and volume. In 2018, retailers shifted around 93,000 units worth about R500 million during the week of Black Friday,” says Moahloli. “People save far in advance for the Black Friday specials, which have become a seasonal event in this market.”

The South Africa technical consumer goods market overall showed flat growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the same quarter in 2017. Major Domestic Appliances (MDA) saw 7.4% growth in value, and Small Domestic Appliances (SDA) increased 11.9% in value.

Some other highlights for the quarter include:

  • The IT Sector declined by 9.1% in value year-on-year in the fourth quarter, driven by plummeting media tablet and storage sales.
  • Mobile computers showed a small decline in unit sales and value, but desktop computers sowed growth of 3.2% in value compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • The photography segment declined by 31% year-on-year in the fourth quarter.
  • Monitor unit sales were boosted by B brands entering the market and reduced prices.

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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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