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Where wearable is headed

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With wearable device technology maturing rapidly and gaining consumer traction, the race is on between manufacturers to capture market share in this new product category, writes CHARLENE MUNILALL, GM for the Huawei Consumer Business Group.

The term ‘product category’ is misleading, however, and the brands that are able to grasp this are the ones that will win this race. The term is misleading because wearable technology is the sum of many parts that have to work together in a co-ordinated, cohesive manner.

A wearable device is but one of these many parts – an important part, obviously – and brands unable to leverage the other component parts in the equation will be relegated to the minor leagues.

These other components include the smartphone that drives the wearable technology, the network infrastructure that carries the data, the value-added services that elevate the wearable device beyond a luxury to a necessity, and the innovation that encapsulates all these different elements.

In essence, this is a question of convergence.

Convergence is a subject that has been at the forefront of the enterprise market for some time and the benefits of an ecosystem designed to simplify enterprise IT will soon be seen the hallmark of consumer wearable technology.

In layman’s terms this would be termed a ‘smart life’ or ‘digital lifestyle’, and wearables will undeniably be at the centre of this evolution.

We are already seeing many examples of this vision of a smart, connected world. Devices ranging from intelligent home management systems, smart televisions and devices that are fully integrated and accessible from a mobile device are but some of the examples.

And wearable technology is the obvious candidate to pull together these various systems and services. This is largely because of the convenience factor that makes this technology so compelling, but equally the increasing integration and functionality built into these devices.

Local critics of wearables often point to these utopian views on the future of the technological possibilities by pointing to the undeniable differences in need across a continent such as Africa.

There is certainly merit to the argument, unless one acknowledges that wearable technology’s primary innovation is to address a need and introduce convenience.

In Africa those needs are definitely different from a consumer sitting in New York or London. But they are driven by the need to be digitally, socially and financially included. And wearable technology certainly has a role to play in offering this to African consumers.

The manner in which Africa has leapfrogged other technologies since the introduction of mobile telephony, it is not difficult to acknowledge that wearables hold the same potential for new and exciting innovations to be rapidly adopted and become part of everyday life.

Huawei has adopted a strategy of trialling new innovations on the continent as it is the perfect test bed for consumer adoption.

There is definitely no lack of will in Africa to adopt technology that can contribute to a smart life. There might currently be infrastructure, network coverage and disposable income challenges, but these are slowly dissipating while building an enormous market hungry for technology.

The need to find practical solutions to local needs, including an attractive price point, has also been embraced by Huawei as a challenge to develop products that are relevant and affordable. With Africa’s middle class growing, an exciting opportunity exists to walk the journey with users who see the benefits of technology and will be able and willing to upgrade as their needs grow.

Huawei is therefore taking a long term and holistic view on the potential and future of wearable technology. This is driven by the company philosophy as well as realisation that the benefits will be realised over the long haul.

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Showmax launches half-price mobile streaming service

A new streaming product designed specifically for Africa, featuring TV series as well as African content and live sport, is aimed at filling the gap in subscription video on demand services

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The subscription video on demand (SVoD) model, which originated in the USA, spread rapidly in countries where uncapped broadband is affordable and widely available. However, because the model also relies on consumers being comfortable with transacting online and having ready access to credit cards, it has barely scratched the surface across Africa.

On top of that, smartphones are often the only only form of Internet access across Africa, and none of the popular SVoD services have been designed for the format.

Showmax says it plans to change this with the launch of a new mobile plan that costs 50% of the standard Showmax package but still features 100% of the same video content. Showmax is set apart by a combination of four pillars: hit African content, exclusive international series, topkids’ shows, and live sport, including weekly matches from the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga.

Showmax says the new plan is aimed at consumers who only use smartphones and tablets to watch video content. Video resolution peaks at standard definition to help reduce data consumption. As it is a product aimed at individuals, only one concurrent stream is included in the plan. As with the regular service, it is also available for a 14-day free trial.

“This is all about an African service developing a solution that meets the needs of African consumers,” saus Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. “Customer feedback consistently points to local content and sport as some of the things that people value most from Showmax. That’s of course on top of the international series, movies, and kids’ shows that are our bread and butter. With all of that content now available in a product designed specifically for mobile usage, we’re doing something no other service can offer.

“On top of that, with groundbreaking deals like our new offer with Vodacom in South Africa, we solve the credit card issue through add-to-bill payment and the data issue by including data directly in the package. We’re looking to launch similar offers in Kenya and Nigeria soon.”

Both the standard and mobile plans include live sport, sport magazine shows and sport documentaries. The 2019 Rugby World Cup Final was streamed live on Showmax earlier this month, and the following is a selection of some of the football due to be live-streamed in November:

22 November: Levante vs Mallorca (La Liga)

23 November: Arsenal vs Southampton (Premier League)

24 November: Bologna vs Parma (Serie A)

25 November: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United (Premier League)

29 November: Celta Vigo vs Valladolid (La Liga)

30 November: Fiorentina vs Lecce (Serie A)

30 November: Chelsea vs West Ham United (Premier League)

Showmax’s mobile plan is currently available in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. 

Comparison of Showmax plans:

Mobile Standard
Price per monthR49 / N1450 / KSh 375R99 / N2900 / KSh 750
Watch on smartphone or tabletYesYes
Watch on smart TV and computerNoYes
HD streamingNoYes
TV series, movies, kids’ showsYesYes
SportYesYes
Concurrent streams12
Cancel anytimeYesYes
14-day free trialYesYes
Chromecast and AirPlayNoYes
Number of devicesOne registered device5 devices can be registered, with 2 able to stream at the same time

For a 14-day free trial, visit www.showmax.com

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Online series wins SA’s Journalist of the Year award

A series of stories on gang warfare in Hanover Park earned Tammy Petersen of News24 the ultimate prize in South African journalism. Here are all the winners of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards.

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At the 18th edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards held at Vodacom World earlier tonight, News24’s Tammy Petersen took top honours and the R100,000 grand prize as national winner for her body of work on a gang war series entitled When you live in Hanover Park, you know death. Petersen’s submission was one of over 1,000 entries received from around the country across 12 categories – Investigative, Opinion, Lifestyle, Photography, Sport, Economics, Politics, CSI, Live reporting/ breaking news, Data Journalism, Multi-platform and the Young Journalist of the Year Award. This year’s theme – Connect the Dots – pays tribute to the best-of-the-best of those entries.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group says: “This year has seen extraordinary entries to the 18th Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards. Not all the stories that are national winners were about huge events but also showed the importance of telling the stories of ordinary people. In line with our theme, the dots were indeed connected, and we congratulate all the winners.”

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The quality of entries has convinced the judges once again that our industry is in good hands, as far as journalism is concerned, despite the many problems that have beset the industry in recent times. Judging from the entries, South African journalists are determined to fly the flag high for a free, independent, and vigorous media, which augurs well for our democracy. As judges, we can only salute all the entrants for the great work that they submitted. In the end, our industry is probably the biggest winner.”

Judges for this year’s awards are: Ryland Fisher (convenor), Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Albe Grobbelaar, Franz Kruger, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Collin Nxumalo, Mary Papayya, and Obed Zilwa.

Visit the next page for the full list of winners and their citations.

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