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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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Samsung in lock-step with its rivals?

Tonight Samsung will kick off the next round in the smartphone wars with the S10 range, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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When Samsung unveils the new S10 smartphone at an event in San Francisco today, it will mark the beginning of the 2019 round of World War S. That stands for smartphone wars, although Samsung would like it to be all about the S.

Ever since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung has held both technology and thought leadership in the handset world. Back then, Apple’s iPhone 5 was the last device from the American manufacturer that could lay claim to being the best smartphone in the world. With the 2013 launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple entered an era of incremental improvement, playing catch-up, and succumbing to market trends driven by its competitors.

Six years later, Samsung is fighting off the same threat. Its Chinese rival, Huawei, suddenly wrested away leadership in the past year, with the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro regarded as at last equal to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 – if not superior. Certainly, from a cost perspective, Huawei took the lead with its more competitive prices, and therefore more value for money.

Huawei also succeeded where Apple failed: introducing more economical versions of its flagship phones. The iPhone 5c, SE and XR have all been disappointments in the sales department, mainly because the price difference was not massive enough to attract lower-income users. In contrast, the Lite editions of the Huawei P9, P10 and P20 have been huge successes, especially in South Africa.

Today, for the first time in half a decade, Samsung goes into battle on a field laid out by its competitors. It is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 Plus, S10 and S10 e, with the latter being the Samsung answer to the strategy of the iPhone XR and Huawei P20 Lite.

Does this mean Samsung is now in lock-step with its rivals, focused on matching their strategies rather than running ahead of them?

It may seem that way, but Samsung has a few tricks up its electronic sleeve. For example, it is possible it will use the S10 launch to announce its coming range of foldable phones, expected to be called the Galaxy X, Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Flex. It previewed the technology at a developer conference in San Francisco last November, and this will be the ideal moment to reclaim technology leadership by going into production with foldables – even if the S10 range itself does not shoot out the lights.

However, the S10 handsets will look very different to their predecessors. First, before switching on the phone, they will be notable by the introduction of what is being called the punch-hole display, which breaks away from the current trend of having a notch at the top of the phone to house front-facing cameras and speakers. Instead, the punch-hole is a single round cut-out that will contain the front camera. It is the key element of Samsung’s “Infinity O” display – the O represents the punchhole – which will be the first truly edge-to-edge display, on the sides and top.

The S10 range will use the new Samsung user interface, One UI, also unveiled at the developer conference. It replaces the previous “skin”, unimaginatively called the Samsung Experience, to introduce a strong new interface brand.

One UI went live on the Note 8 last month, giving us a foretaste, and giving Samsung a chance to iron out the bugs in the field. It is a less cluttered interface, addressing one of the biggest complaints about most manufacturer skins. Only Nokia and Google Pixel handsets offer pure Android in the local market, but One UI is Samsung’s best compromise yet.

It introduces a new interaction area, in the bottom half, reachable with the thumb, with a viewing area at the top, allowing the user to work one-handed on the bottom area while still having apps or related content visible above. One UI also improves gesture navigation – the phone picks up hand movements without being touched – and notification management.

The S10 range will be the first phones to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, at least for the South African and American markets. That makes it 5G compatible, for when this next generation of mobile broadband becomes available in these markets.

They will also be the first phones to feature Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of the Wi-Fi mobile wireless standard. It will perform better in congested areas, and data transfer will be up to 40% faster than the previous generation.

The phones will be the first to use ultrasound for fingerprint detection. If Samsung gets it right, this will make it the fastest in-screen fingerprint sensor on the market, and allows for a little leeway if one pushes the finger down slightly outside the fingerprint reader surface. It does mean, however, that screen protectors will have to be redesigned to avoid blocking the detection.

Not enough firsts? There are a few more.

Most notably, it will be the first phone range to feature 1 Terabyte (TB) storage – that’s a thousand Gigabytes (GB) – at least for the top-of-the-range devices. Samsung last month announced that it would be the first manufacturer to make 1TB built-in onboard flash storage. Today, it will deploy this massive advantage as it once again weaponises its technology in the fight for smartphone domination.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT set to improve authentication

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By Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things Solutions for CISMEA region at Gemalto

As it rapidly approaches maturity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to continue a transformational trajectory, introducing new efficiencies in multiple fields by allowing measurement and analysis on a scale that has never been possible before. From agriculture to logistics, from retail to hospitality, from traffic to health, from the home to the office, the applications for monitoring ”things” are limited only by the imagination.

And South African (and African) businesses are showing abundant imagination in their practical deployments of IoT solutions in multiple settings, creating a better tomorrow through almost universal measurement and the introduction of new levels of convenience – including how to access locations, devices and services securely.

Any company, whether South African or international, should bear in mind that understanding consumer expectations can be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT devices and related smart services.

According to Gemalto’s latest Connected Living study, improving the way consumers authenticate themselves to services is one of the most anticipated benefits of IoT, highlighting a desire for a more seamless and secure IoT experience.

Consumers are interested in advanced ways of authenticating themselves through automatic (based on behavioral patterns) or biometric techniques, lessening the need to have to intervene manually, all in the name of a much more streamlined authentication process. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have already placed fingerprint and facial recognition high on the agenda. There is also a widespread positive sentiment towards IoT’s potential for improving the quality of home life through connected, smart appliances.

Personalised services is something else that wins consumers over. In fact, a fluid, personalised and unified experience with continuity of services, together with security and privacy, is critical for the successful implementation of any technology.

And those types of services are today quite possible. With everything being connected – from small gadgets to digital solutions for large enterprises – IoT is no longer just a buzzword. That much is clear in a piece from Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg. Writing for IOL Online, Liebenberg provides insight into the sheer range of applications for IoT: the 20 use cases he cites range from the obvious, like transport and logistics, to the connected home and wearables; he even suggests tagging pets with IoT transmitters, for those who always need to know the whereabouts of the family cat.

Low-cost tags fitted to cats, dogs, lamp posts, shipping containers or other items are just one part of the puzzle, however. There are other two pieces; arguably the most complex part is the availability of communication networks in areas where there aren’t any WiFi networks, or indeed, anything else.

And that’s where the bigger takeaway from Liebenberg’s piece and other IoT trends articles becomes apparent. The communication networks are there, as are those tags: dedicated IoT networks (like LoraWAN, SigFox and narrowband IoT) are all available in South Africa.

So, too, is the third and final essential component. Software which is able to process the data generated by the tag and transmitted over the IoT network and into the internet. In this regard, there’s no shortage of solutions available from cloud providers like AWS and Azure; electronics giant Siemens, too, is in on the action, having recently launched a new cloud-based IoT operating system to develop applications and services for process industries, including oil and gas and water management.

This combination means it is quite possible right now to enable just about any use case. Business owners, who will know best how IoT can add value in their organisation, can now see their ideas becoming reality. Most crucial of all, IoT solutions delivering new levels of efficiency and convenience are not only possible, they are able to be offered with the simple and effective security that will drive consumer acceptance.

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