Smartphone unit sales in South Africa climbed by around 21% in 2017, even as South Africans reduced their spending in most categories of the consumer technology market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.
Storage, media streaming device, and speaker retail sales also saw healthy growth last year, while tablet computer, desktop computer and mobile computer sales experienced sharp declines.
GfK South Africa’s data shows that smartphone sales in South Africa climbed from around 10 million in 2016 to over 12 million in 2017. Even though much of this growth was driven by adoption of entry-level smartphones from second-tier brands, the value of the smartphone market showed an increase of 22%. Sales of basic mobile phones dropped 11% in 2017, as users continued to migrate to smartphones.
“Electronics, telecommunications and information technology retail experienced a difficult year in 2017 as consumers tightened their belts in response to economic difficulties in South Africa,” says Nikolay Dolgov, General Manager of Point of Sales Tracking at GfK South Africa. “However, the smartphone market continued to show strong growth as more South Africans sought to get connected to the Internet and as smartphone prices continued to fall.”
Quarterly sales of mobile devices reached record levels in the fourth quarter of 2017, largely driven by Black Friday retail specials in November and robust sales during the December festive season. In addition to entry-level smartphones, the large-screen ‘phablet’ form factor also experienced significant growth.
“Consumers are looking for special deals and promotions when they’re ready to upgrade their devices,” says Norman Chauke, Solutions Specialist at GfK South Africa. “What’s more, we’re seeing the pace of the transition from basic phones to smartphones accelerate as the price gap between them narrows. Operators are nudging subscribers towards smart devices as they seek to grow their data revenues.”
Sales in the information technology segment – including tablets, desktops and mobile computers – declined by 25% in 2017. The sharp drop is largely due to a continued deterioration in sales of media tablets, with unit sales falling more than 40% to less than 1 million units. Large-screen smartphones are cannibalising tablet sales as users choose to buy a better smartphone rather than a new tablet.
Mobile computer sales dipped by more than 15% and desktop fell 29% as consumers held off upgrading as a volatile exchange rate continued to affect pricing. Desktop and mobile computer manufacturers continue to address weak sales of their devices by selling more affordable, lower-specced machines with older generation processors, less RAM and smaller screen sizes.
Storage saw good growth in 2017, with increasing shipments of mobile computers with SSD hard drives that have low storage capacities driving growth for external storage.
“Though low-end platforms such as the Celeron account for more than half of the market, sales of premium devices based on Core i5 and Core i7 grew during 2017,” says Chauke. “In line with established trends in market, we are seeing tech-savvy online shoppers, in particular, gravitate towards premium mobile computers.”
Turning to the consumer electronics market, panel television sales were strong in the fourth quarter of 2017, largely thanks to good sales during the week of Black Friday in November. Consumers snapped up large-screen TVs and premium models over the Black Friday period, translating into a healthy and high average price. Despite strong Black Friday sales, the panel TV market for the full 2017 year was flat.
Ultrahigh definition, 55 inch screens showed a significant decline in sales. Despite a negative growth for the consumer electronics segment, loudspeakers reached a record high in sales value during the fourth quarter of 2017. Audio home system sales, however, dropped significantly during the quarter.
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
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 Award. She 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:
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 recognition, Age 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.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
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.