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VR’s first billion in 2016

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Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has predicted that virtual reality (VR) will have its first billion dollar year in 2016, with about US$700 million in hardware sales, and the remainder from content.

The 15th edition of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions, a report by Deloitte Global, estimates sales of about 2.5 million VR headsets and 10 million game copies sold. Additionally, the report expects the majority of spending on VR to be by core users rather than casual gamers. This means that while anyone with a smartphone could try a variant of VR, the majority of VR’s revenues in 2016 will likely be driven by tens of millions of users rather than billions of users.

“While in 2016 virtual reality is expected to reach a major milestone―becoming a one billion dollar market—in the long term VR is likely to struggle to reach the scale or ubiquity of the smartphone, PC or the television set,” said Sharoda Rapeti, Deloitte TMT Director. “However, as the technology required to provide a total immersive experience improves, wider global adoption may ensue.

“We are seeing significant growth potential in cognitive technologies, such as computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning. This year 80 of the top 100 enterprise software companies are expected to be using cognitive technologies, unleashing the potential of the Internet of Things; this may even transform computing as we know it over time. While cognitive technologies may get less immediate attention from consumers than new virtual headsets, it is likely to be much more important over the long run for the enterprise and for consumers alike.”

Millennials may not be the post-PC generation

In addition to the predictions on virtual reality, the report suggests that while millennials are the smartphone generation, trailing millennials (those 18-24 years old) are anticipated to be the most pro-PC of all age groups of 2016. According to research by Deloitte member firms, an average of over 85 percent of trailing millennials in 13 developed world countries had access to a laptop in 2015. Further, laptop access for the trailing millennial demographic was either highest or second highest of the six age groups in the member firms’ surveys in all but two markets, Norway and Finland. This data suggests 18-24 year-olds see smartphones and PCs as complements, not substitutes, which may in part be due to the decreased costs of laptops (there are many devices for less than US$500 available on the market).

Additional findings from Deloitte Global’s 2016 TMT predictions include:

Technology

·         Women in IT jobs: it is about education, but also about more than just education – By the end of 2016 fewer than 25 percent of information technology (IT) jobs in developed countries are expected to be held by women, (i.e., women working in IT roles). This figure is about the same as 2015, and may even be down.

·         Cognitive technologies enhance enterprise software – In 2016 more than 80 of the world’s 100 biggest software companies will likely have integrated cognitive technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, or speech recognition, into their products. This represents a 25 percent increase from 2015 when 64 of the top 100 had launched products and services, which featured one or more cognitive technologies.

·         Touch Commerce: the mobile online checkout gets an express lane –The number of individuals who use a third party touch-based payment service to make a purchase on their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) is likely to increase by 150 percent to reach 50 million regular users in 2016. Touch commerce enables retailers to exploit shoppers’ increasing use of mobile devices to browse retail sites where transactions have remained scarce, due mostly to laborious payment processes.

·         Graphene: research now; reap next decade – While the total value of the graphene materials market in 2016 is likely to be in the low tens of millions of dollars, research and development spending for the year is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In the medium-term, graphene may be incorporated into products worth many billions of dollars of value per year– but it could be decades before this material’s potential is fully realized.

Media

·         Mobile ad-blockers: saved by the app? Only 0.3 percent of all mobile device owners are expected to use an ad-blocker by end 2016. This is likely to place less than US$100 million (0.1 percent) of the US$70 billion mobile advertising (smartphones and tablets) market at risk.

·         Mobile games: leading, but less lucrative – In 2016 mobile (smartphone and tablet) will likely become the leading games platform by software revenue, expected to generate US$35 billion in revenue up 20 percent from 2015. This compares to expected revenues of US$32 billion for PC games and US$28 billion for console games, up only five and six percent respectively from the previous year. However, average revenue per game by platform will likely vary significantly.

·         eSports: bigger and smaller than you think – eSports will likely generate global revenues of US$500 million in 2016, up 25 percent from about US$400 million in 2015, and will likely have an audience of regular and occasional viewers of close to 150 million people. This expected revenue is only a fraction of league revenues in major sports such as European football (soccer), U.S. football, basketball, baseball, or ice hockey, which range from US$4 billion up to US$30 billion.

·         European football scores US$30 billion – The European football market will likely reach US$30 billion for the first time for 2016/2017, an US$8 billion increase relative to 2011/2012, and a compound annual growth rate of seven percent.

·         The award for stable box office revenues in the face of digital media goes to … – In 2016 the value of movie theatre admissions in the US and Canada are expected to fall by about three percent to about US$10.6 billion, with about 1.3 billion tickets sold.

·         US TV: erosion, not implosion – In 2016 the US traditional television market, the world’s largest at what will likely be about US$170 billion in 2016, is expected to see erosion on at least five fronts: the number of pay-TV subscribers; pay-TV penetration as a percent of total population; average pay-TV monthly bill; consumers switching to antennas for watching TV; and live and time-shifted viewing by the overall population, and especially by trailing millennials 18-24 years old.

Telecommunications

·         The dawn of the Gigabit Internet age: every bit counts – The number of Gigabit per second (Gbit/s) Internet connections is expected to surge to ten million by year-end, a tenfold increase of which about 70 percent will likely be residential connections. Rising demand will likely be fueled by increasing availability and falling prices. It’s anticipated that about 600 million subscribers may be on networks that offer a Gigabit tariff as of 2020, representing the majority of connected homes in the world.

·         Used smartphones: the US$17 billion market you may never have heard of – In 2016 consumers are expected to sell outright or trade-in approximately 120 million used smartphones, generating more than US$17 billion for their owners. This is a marked increase from the 80 million smartphones traded in 2015 with a value of US$11 billion. Moreover, 10 percent of premium smartphones (US$500 or higher) purchased new in 2016 will likely end up having three or more owners before being retired.

·         Photo sharing: trillions and rising – In 2016, 2.5 trillion photos are expected to be shared or stored online, a 15 percent increase on the prior year. Over 90 percent of these photos will likely have been taken over a smartphone; digital SLRs, compact cameras, tablets and laptops are estimated to collectively contribute the remainder. This estimate does not include the trillions of photos that remain on devices’ memory.

·         The rise of the “data exclusive” – About 26 percent of smartphone users in developed markets are expected to not make any traditional phone calls in a given week in 2016. These individuals, known as ‘data exclusives’, have not stopped communicating, but are rather substituting traditional voice calls for a combination of messaging including SMS, voice and video services delivered ‘over the top’.

·         VoLTE / VoWiFi: capacity, reach and capability – 100 mobile operators worldwide will likely be offering at least one packet-based voice service at the end of 2016, double the amount year-on-year, and six times higher than at the beginning of 2015.  The report estimates that approximately 300 million customers will be using Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) and / or Voice over LTE (VoLTE), double the number at the start of the year and five times higher than at the beginning of 2015.

Now in its 15th year, Deloitte Global’s annual TMT Predictions provides a 12-18 month outlook on key trends in the technology, media and telecommunications industry sectors worldwide. Full details about the global TMT Predictions are available here: www.deloitte.com/tmtpredictions

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AppDate: Prepare for space

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Space Nation Navigator, Hitman Sniper, Snake Mask, Memrise, WhatsApp Web, and Carrot Weather.

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Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is a bit of a strange app. It is part game, part exercise and part educational. On the game side, users have to navigate the Mars Rover, put the International Space Station back into orbit or move their Martians to safety before a sand storm hits Mars. When it comes to exercise, Space Nation Navigator provides users with a range of exercises and Yoga videos to prepare them for space travel and working in an anti-gravity environment. The education aspect teaches users about the planets, and star constellations, and then offers quizzes on what has been taught.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Memrise

Memrise takes a new approach to help people learn new languages. Instead of providing a user with random phrases and words to memorise, the app connects you with a person already fluent in the language you want to learn. In turn, the person you are speaking to wants to learn the language in which you are fluent. Once your profile is filled out and languages selected, it connects you with people around the world who are interested in your language, and then allows you to chat with them in real-time. Memrise also lets one learn new languages through games, chatbots and grammarbots that help with spelling, tenses and pronunciations.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Hitman Sniper

Hitman Sniper is loosely based on the Agent 47 movie released a few years ago. The game offers players the ability to hone their shooting skills through a range of training courses and, once they think they are ready, they can start taking out the bad guys. Things start off easy enough, but they get more and more difficult as one progresses through the 150 missions on offer. One will also have to upgrade various gun components, like scopes, magazine capacities and silencers, to make the missions a little easier. Hitman Sniper lets users buy 16 to tackle each of the missions – either with real money or via the points accumulated by completing missions. Money and points can also be used to upgrade firearms.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: R7 – with a range of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Snake Mask

The iconic Snake game that was preinstalled on most older Nokia phones has had a complete make-over. It now uses Facebook’s AR technology, meaning that you have to navigate the snake around obstacles in your home or office, all the while collecting coins and stars that change the snake’s speed and length. Unfortunately, Snake Mask is only available on Nokia’s new range of smartphones. However, it should not take long before it slithers onto other devices.

 

Platform: New Nokia smartphones running Android.

Cost: Free to use through the Facebook app installed on the device.

Stockists: Available through the Facebook app.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is by no means a new app, it is an extremely useful one, and one that not many people know about. Tapping out WhatsApps on your phone is easy enough, but thanks to WhatsApp Web it can be even easier. Open the WhatApp Web page under WhatsApp and you will see a QR code. Scan this code through WhatsApp on your mobile and you will be shown a replica of what you would normally see on your phone. You can then type and reply to messages using your computer instead of having to stop everything and unlock your phone every time a message comes through. WhatsApp Web is great if you share your computer with other people as it automatically disconnects when the browser is closed. However WhatsApp also offers an app that when installed will stay connected to your phone unless you manually remove it.

 

Platform: Any up-to-date Internet browser

Cost: Free to use and install

Stockists: Visit www.WhatsApp.com

 

Carrot Weather

There are thousands of weather apps on the Internet these days and all of them do the same thing – inform you of the weather in your area. However, Carrot Weather has taken what is just another app and turned it into something fun. By fun, I mean sarcastic, rude and completely politically incorrect. A user starts off by selecting religious and political views. It then asks about personality, ranging from friendly to homicidal to overkill – which includes profanity. So, for instance, instead of waking up to to the standard partly cloudy forecast, Carrot Weather will display something like: “It’s only partly sunny, the sun is a total effing failure.” It also has a range of insults that it throws at you whenever you open the app – some of them downright insulting, so it is definitely not for those who are easily offended. The app’s user interface is very simple, displaying a week’s daily forecast and hourly forecasts for the day selected.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: Free to download but with adverts. The premium, advert free version costs R12 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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SA Start-up reinvents PABX

For any South African business, the idea of setting up or changing a telephonic switchboard system is the stuff of nightmares. Dealing with expensive hardware and hearing things like QSIG and VOIP is not what you’d call exciting.But now there is an app.

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Enter BuzzBox (www.buzzboxcloud.co.za), a web-based telephone switchboard that is aimed at small and medium sized businesses wanting to take the hassle and cost out of the company switchboard. Whether you are a small one-man operation or a larger organisation with staff working remotely, BuzzBox is the best switchboard solution.

What sets BuzzBox apart from anything else on the market is its easy-to-use dashboard. It puts you in control of everything from picking your phone number to setting up voice prompts and managing your business-hours schedule.

BuzzBox was developed when the startup behind it, Jini-Guru, needed such a service for its own use across multiple continents. “When we started Jini-Guru we could not find a seamless online process that would allow us to set up a full web-based switchboard, so we decided to build one for ourselves,” says Mike Smits, Director at Jini-Guru.

He says a lot of startups today are tech savvy and know how to use apps and the services that go with it. “It’s the uberisation of services and its driving demand for instant service activation.”

BuzzBox works as an app on both iOS and Android but users wanting a desk phone option can choose from a variety of devices on offer or use their existing VOIP phones.

Setting up a BuzzBox account takes 5 minutes. During registration your FICA documents are uploaded [ID and proof or residence] and you get to pick your phone number before the account is created. Companies that want to keep an existing number can do so too.

The real magic happens when you log on to the BuzzBox Dashboard. The main screen displays a summary of statistics for your account while the left-hand menu provides you quick access to various configuration settings and reports.

Setting up new extensions or external numbers is done with a few clicks and you can even set up various departments which is a great way to route a call to various people in a department, like sales or support.

The intuitive user interface also makes it easy to set up hold-music and voice prompts. You can add voice prompts by recording them straight to your phone, just make sure you use a clear voice with quiet surroundings for the best customer experience.

One of the main features of BuzzBox is its call recording feature that allows an organisation to record calls for legislative purposes, such as a lawyer, or for customer service purposes such as support. Recordings are stored securely online, and you have the ability to download recordings for playback. Companies can opt-in for this service and it’s free to use. Recordings are stored online and are fully encrypted so only you can listen to, or download them. Storage costs R1 for every 1000 minutes of stored recordings.

Other features include call forwarding and scheduling. The latter allows you to set office hours for your organisation which will divert calls to an after-hours messaging service. You also have the option to enable routing to an employee who is on call after hours.

BuzzBox also has a reseller program for companies wanting to offer this as a switchboard solution to their existing customers.

The costs for this service is R89 p/m for the first phone number which includes your first extension for free. Thereafter you’ll pay R89p/m per extension. Calls between extensions are free but you pay per second for all outgoing phone calls. More info on pricing can be found here: https://buzzboxcloud.co.za/pricing/

BuzzBox is offering a Launch promotion where they are offering the first line and extension free for 12 months. Only pay for calls. Use promo code “feoifyaa” during sign-up to apply your discount.

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