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Still huge market for Personal Entertainment Devices

Many think a personal entertainment device (PED) comprise a set of headphones and an MP3 player, but that’s the beginning. Users need to look at other devices like SD cards and flat-screen TVs before they have a true PED, writes BRIAN PEREIRA.

On a recent visit to a well-known electronics store in Mumbai, I was disappointed to note the limited choices in personal entertainment devices (PEDs). In this age of mobile phones and tablets, which have enough capacity to hold thousands of songs and a few movies, one might ask if there is a need for a PED. You just need a Bluetooth speaker and your home LCD TV — and the set up is complete, right?

Wrong.

A true PED must incorporate a combination of the following: support for diverse media (thumb drive, SD card, aux-in); high-fidelity audio; radio reception; high resolution video; voice recording; ability to copy media (remember mix tapes?); portability (small form factor); sound amplification; mixer; equalizer; connectivity options (for hooking the device to external amplifiers, mixers etc).

My search for the perfect PED took me to Lamington road, Mumbai’s electronics district. And here I saw elements of the perfect PED in an assortment of devices, mostly imported from China and Taiwan.

I remember my visit to that district in the 1980s. Every second shop was selling two-in-ones and three-in-ones — cassette player, radio, and later CD player.

And whenever anyone returned from a “foreign trip” it was customary to buy a shiny, sleek two-in-one with the word “STEREO” prominently printed on its fascia. Stereo sound was a big deal then, even though speaker technology in portables was a long way from delivering punchy bass — present in the “boom boxes” that arrived in the 1990s.

And in 1979, we were introduced to the Walkman and its high fidelity stereo sound.

Well, those were the PED’s of the 1980s and 1990s.

With the advent of the Apple iPod, smart phones, and the digitization of music, manufacturers stopped making those PEDs. Only a handful of them continue to manufacture two-in-ones today, with the cassette player now replaced by a DVD/CD player. Yet, very few of those devices are compatible with today’s media (SD cards, thumb drive) and fewer support Bluetooth connectivity. So, essentially, those PEDs are revamped versions of what you could get in the 1990s — with minor technology enhancements.

AN OPPORTUNITY

However, I do see a lot of progress in car entertainment systems. Touchscreen interfaces, LED displays for movies, USB connectors, advanced amplification, fancy graphics…

I think Pioneer, Sony, Kenwood, Blaupunkt and others could use this technology to create a new class of PEDs for the home. This new class of PEDs could be portable (like the old 2-in-ones), yet have a design and form factor that blends in with the living room and other home entertainment devices.

What about hard disk-based media players and media servers? These do exist but have not yet become mainstream. Perhaps manufacturers need to work on the pricing and marketing aspects. The technology can also be advanced to include support for all our media storage — pen drives, SD cards etc.

The new PEDs should also support multiple video and photo formats, and offer HDMI connectivity to TVs.

I’m sure that with the right set of features and right pricing, these devices can be the new PEDs that everyone will want to buy on the next foreign trip. Well, actually, things have changed a lot in India, and we could just buy these online in future!

I’m ready to consult for any consumer electronics company that wants to make the new PED.

* Brian Pereira is a veteran technology journalist/analyst from India. He’s been tracking consumer and enterprise technology trends since 1990. Follow him on Twitter on @brian9p

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Mobile is the new branch

Standard Bank has launched an account for mobile devices that gives back 500MB of data a month

Standard Bank has introducd a R4.95p/m bank account called MyMo that customers can open on their mobile devices, loaded with data and airtime offerings and other benefits such as virtual and Gold physical card.

MyMo account holders will also enjoy the convenience of a cheque account through a Visa and Mastercard gold card. Once the account is open, users can choose to either receive R50 in airtime or 500MB of data a month, if their card is swiped more than four times a month. A further megabyte of data is loaded on the account for every R20 spent.

“MyMo is an account for everyone, whether you just landed your first job or have been around the block. With no documentation required it only takes a few minutes to open the account,” says Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive for Personal and Business Banking, South Africa, at Standard Bank Group. “For just R4.95 a month customer will be able to enjoy free swipes and ATM withdrawals at only R6.50 for amounts under R 1 000.

“Mobile is the new branch. This account is about bringing the mobile branch into customers hands, it is about convenience and security while banking.”

She says mobile offers low cost transactional banking which integrates people and businesses into the new connected economy, making mobile the new branch ecosystem that will drive and connect Africa’s growth. Physical connections to the economy are rapidly changing to digital where banks have to move from being financial institutions to service organisations.

“In the past people congregated in communities and eventually cities to maximise the advantages of connectivity. Today a simple hand-held device has the potential to open infinite doors, transforming individuals’ access to opportunities, regardless of where they are, and like never before in history. 

“Historically, a bank account represented access to economic citizenship. Today, having a simple device enabling digital access to a modern banking platform is a passport to global connectivity and vast human development potential.”

The bank says it is using technology, and mobile phones in particular, to deliver low-cost transactional channels accessible to all our customers. The evolution in mobile can be seen in transaction options like cash back at the retail checkout till rather than the ATM, free digital banking rather than using a branch, and the ability to transact using digital wallets, even without a bank account.

“Developing comprehensive connected ecosystems requires a mind-set change from Africa’s banks,” says Montjane. “Banks will evolve away from traditional financial service organisations, into service ecosystems enabling broad universal access to almost everything like enhanced purchasing experiences of vehicles and homes, online procurement of goods and services and lifestyle elements like rewards and travel. 

“These connectivity drivers will also act to future-proof evolving connectivity ecosystem by allowing us to offer untold future services while deriving income from as yet unrealised revenue streams,.   

From a customer perspective, the kind of ecosystems of knowledge, access and, ultimately, connectivity that banks will come to provide will radically transform the share of life that almost all individuals will be able to access.”

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Two-thirds of SA staff hide social media from bosses

With 90% of people in employment going online several times a day, it can be hard for most workers to keep their private and work-life separate during the working day (and beyond). The recently published Global Privacy Report from Kaspersky Lab reveals that 64% of South African consumers choose to hide social media activity from their boss. This secretive stance at work also extends to their colleagues, with 60% of South Africans also preferring not to reveal online activities to their co-workers.

Globally, the average employee spends an astonishing 13 years and two months at work during their lifetime. Interestingly though, not all this time is directly related to solving work tasks or earning a promotion: almost two thirds (64%) of consumers admit visiting non-work-related websites every day from their desk.

Not surprisingly, 35% of South African employees are against their employer knowing which websites they visit. However, more interestingly, 60% of South African are even against their colleagues knowing about their online activities. This probably means that colleagues constitute an even greater threat to future perspectives of an office slouch or maybe the relationships with colleagues are more informal and therefore, more valuable.

On the contrary, social media activity appears to be a less private domain for many and therefore, more suitable for sharing with colleagues but not the boss. This is probably because workers fear harming the public image of a company or interest in decreased staff productivity motivates companies to monitor employees’ social networks and make career changing decisions based on that. Such policies have led to 64% of South Africans saying that they don’t want to reveal their social media activities to their boss and 53% even don’t want to disclose this information to their colleagues.

A further 29% are against showing the content of their messages and emails to their employer. In addition, 3% even said that their career was irrevocably damaged as a consequence of their personal information being leaked. Thus, people are worried about how to build a favourable internal reputation and how not to destroy existing workplace relationships.

“As going online is an integral part of our life nowadays, lines continue to blur between our digital existence at work and at home. And that’s neither good nor bad. That’s how we live in the digital age. Just keep remembering that as an employee you need to be increasingly cautious of what exactly you post on social media feeds or what websites you prefer using at work. One misconceived action on the internet could have an irrevocable long-term impact on even the most ambitious worker’s ability to climb the career ladder of their choice in the future,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky Lab.

To ensure workers don’t fall prey of the internet threats at a work, there are some core guidelines to adhere to in the digital age:

  • Don’t post anything that could be considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libellous. If in doubt, don’t post.
  • Be aware that system administrators may at least, in theory, be informed about your web browsing patterns.
  • Don’t harass, threaten, discriminate or disparage against any colleague, partner, competitor or customer. Neither on social networks or in messages, emails, nor by any other means.
  • Don’t post photographs of other employees, customers, vendors, suppliers or company products without prior written permission.
  • Start using Kaspersky Password Manager to ensure your social media and other personal accounts are not at risk of unauthorised access by someone else in an office. Install a reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud to protect your personal devices.

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