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Mobile Report Highlights of 2013


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What happened in 2013 in South Africa's (and Africa's) Mobile landscape in 2013? The special edition of the Mobile Report does a recap.

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Mobile Report Highlights of 2013

  1. 1. MOBILE REPORT Highlights 2013
  2. 2. VIVO X3 CRUSHES WORLD’S THINNEST SMARTPHONE TITLE It wasn’t so long ago that Huawei grabbed the title of World’s Thinnest Smartphone with the Ascend P6, which measures just 6.16mm thick. Now, Huawei has lost it again, this time to the Vivo X3. Vivo X3 is just 5.75mm thick. It’s not cheating either, as the X3’s chassis measures the same all the way along, with no unsightly bumps for the battery or camera lens. The screen is 5-inches and has a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, while the processor is a quad-core chip with a 1.5GHz clock speed. Android 4.2 is installed as the OS, and there’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back of the phone. Surprisingly for such a thin phone, the X3 is quite heavy at 150 grams, and the battery is as feeble as you’d expect at 2000mAh. Also, if you want the super thin Vivo X3, you’re stuck with a blue color scheme, as the white model is 5.95mm thick. The Vivo X3 will go on sale in China next month, when it will cost the equivalent of $410. Source: Digital trends, 23 August 2013
  3. 3. SMARTPHONE FOR THE BLIND A small team of Israeli entrepreneurs has come with the world’s first smartphone for the visually impaired. Project Ray, as the team calls it, was originally conceived as a way of helping the Israeli Library for the Blind get its services to a wider audience. The visually impaired persons rely on a multitude of gadgets and most of them don’t come cheap. They also have to drag along a whole suitcase of expensive accessories. The whole idea of Project Ray is to replace that suitcase with a powerful, cloud-connected smartphone. People need just 30 minutes of training to get to grips with the new UI. It relies on audio prompted commands and users select apps and commands by lifting the finger off the screen. In addition to texting and GPS, the phone also features a colour detection app that helps users match their clothing, along with a banknote app to identify money. Source: TechEye, 10 June 2013
  4. 4. UBUNTU EDGE DUAL-BOOTS ANDROID, SEEKS $32M Say hello to the Ubuntu Edge, the first smartphone to use open-source Ubuntu Touch software as well as Android. Ubuntu creator British company Canonical wants to bring the dual-booting Edge to fruition by raising a whopping 21.5 million pounds ($32 million) in a month on Indiegogo. It claims this is the biggest target ever for a crowdfunded campaign. The campaign intends to produce 40,000 units; if you want to own an Edge of your very own, you'll get a handset if you pledge 394 pounds ($600) today, or 532 pounds ($830) thereafter. You will have to wait until May 2014 to actually get your hands on the Edge, however. Canonical says it's adopted crowdfunding to see which technologies early adopters are interested in paying for, without a manufacturer having to spend millions on developing a product that then proves to be a flop. The company highlights the Edge's battery and scratch-proof screen as technologies that would be adopted more widely if they could be proved by this project to be the sort of things people want from their phones. The Edge promises "the latest, fastest processor," with at least 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It has a 4.5-inch, 720p screen covered in pure sapphire crystal, which Canonical claims to be "the hardest natural substance after diamond." Source: CNET, 22 July 2013
  5. 5. BALLOONS: GOOGLE’S PLAN TO CONNECT THE WORLD The company has begun a pilot project in New Zealand using highpressure balloons in the stratosphere to provide Internet connectivity “at 3G speeds” to remote and rural areas across the planet, with South Africa high on the list as a planned pilot country. Project Loon balloons will float about 19km above the earth’s surface,. Each pumpkin-shaped balloon is the size of a light aircraft and is roughly 15m in diameter. Users connect to the balloon network using an antenna attached their building. The balloons relay connectivity from terrestrial internet networks and can share connectivity between them. Each balloon is capable of serving an area with a 20km radius and a couple of hundred simultaneous users. As part of the trial, which will service 50 locations in and around Christchurch in New Zealand, Google launched a total of 30 balloons last week. Fiber backhaul from the ground station is being supplied by Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand. Source: TechCentral, 15 June 2013
  6. 6. ANDROID KITKAT REVEALED BY GOOGLE In what can only be a massive marketing boost to Nestlé, Google has announced the name of the forthcoming iteration of its Android mobile operating system (OS). The name is not Key Lime Pie, but rather Android 4.4 (KitKat), after Nestlé’s popular chocolate and wafer confectionery. In order to mark the release of Android KitKat, more than 50 million specially branded KitKat bars will be available in 19 markets including South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Middle East, Russia, the UK as well as the US. Nestlé stated that these packs will lead consumers to the website, where they will have the opportunity to win prizes that include a limited number of Google Nexus 7 tablets, and credits to spend in the Google Play app market. Android is the world’s most popular mobile OS, powering a commanding 79.3% of all smartphones shipped during Q2 2013, according to the latest figures from market research firm IDC. Various iterations of the platform has sported sweet-themed names ever since the release of Android 1.5 Cupcake back in 2009. Cupcake was followed by Donut (Android 1.6), which was succeeded by Eclair (Android 2.0), itself followed by Froyo (Android 2.1, Frozen Yoghurt). Source: techsmart, 4 September 2013
  7. 7. TATA TO SELL SOUTH AFRICA’S NEOTEL TO VODAFONE ARM India's largest private sector conglomerate Tata Group is selling South Africa's Neotel seven years after it acquired a controlling stake in that country's second largest fixed line telecom operator to Vodafone. The deal is expected to value Neotel, in which Tata Communications holds 68.5%, at about $550 million. The transaction will mark the group's biggest and first overseas asset sale under chairman Cyrus Mistry. Tata decided to explore an exit from Neotel late last year, since the company required long-term commitment and significant cash deployment in an intensely competitive market. Source: The Times of India, 1 October 2013
  8. 8. MICROSOFT TO ACQUIRE NOKIA'S DEVICES & SERVICES BUSINESS According to Nokia, Microsoft will purchase "substantially" all of Nokia's device and service arms as well as licensing the phone maker's patents and mapping know-how. The Redmond company will pay Nokia 3.79 billion euros ($4.99 billion) for the business, and 1.65 billion euros ($2.18 billion) for its patent armory. Microsoft hopes that allying with its biggest Windows Phone manufacturer will speed up growth (and improve its smartphone market share) -- the company is already promising "increased synergies.” CEO Steve Ballmer added: "It's a bold step into the future - a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. According to the companies' press releases, 32,000 people will transfer across Microsoft, including 4,700 people in Finland and 18,300 employees directly involved in product manufacture. Microsoft will also take into ownership Nokia's Asha range of feature phones. Patent-wise, Microsoft gets 10-year non-exclusive license to its Finnish partner's library of ideas and "reciprocal rights" to use Microsoft patents within its HERE mapping services. Source: Engadget, 2 September 2013
  9. 9. MTN TO OPPOSE TURKCELL LAWSUIT MTN plans to defend the lawsuit brought by Turkish mobile operator Turkcell, and which was previously heard in the US. "MTN Group will vigorously defend the Turkcell lawsuit, the Turkish operator's fifth claim arising from the unsuccessful bid to obtain a mobile licence in Iran," MTN spokesman Xolisa Vapi said in a statement. "While the summons has not yet been served on it, MTN understands that the claim is now made against MTN, its wholly-owned subsidiary MTN International (Mauritius) Limited (MTNI) and others, in which Turkcell claims an amount of some US4.2 billion, plus interest and legal costs.” Vapi described the court action as "a spurious attempt to claim monies to which Turkcell is not entitled". Turkcell said in a statement it was seeking damages from MTN over the awarding of a private Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) licence in Iran. Turkcell claimed it was awarded Iran's first GSM licence in 2004, but was unlawfully prevented from receiving the licence. The agreement was instead signed with MTN. Source: MoneyWeb, 29 November 2013
  10. 10. BLACKBERRY MAY PUT ITSELF UP FOR SALE Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry is weighing options that could include an outright sale, it said, and its largest shareholder is stepping down from its board to avoid any possible conflict of interest. BlackBerry, which pioneered mobile email with its first smartphones and email pagers, said it had set up a committee to review its options, sparking a debate over whether Canada's one-time crown jewel is more valuable as a whole or snapped up piece by piece by competitors or private investors. The company said Prem Watsa, whose Fairfax Financial Holdings is BlackBerry's biggest shareholder, was leaving the board as BlackBerry determines its next steps. The potential buyers of BlackBerry assets, if not the company itself, could include deep-pocketed Canadian pension funds, as well as some of its rivals. BlackBerry, once a stock market darling, has bled market share to Apple and phones using Google Android operating system, and its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones have failed to gain traction with consumers. Companies tipped as possible partners for BlackBerry have included Microsoft and, as well as Lenovo Group. Sources say Wall Street bankers have also pitched deals involving BlackBerry to companies such as HTC and Samsung Electronics, so far without success. Source: ITWeb Africa, 13 August 2013
  11. 11. BBM AVAILABLE TO ALL AFRICAN SMARTPHONES Finally BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is available as a free download on the Google Play and Apple App Store in Africa. The launch followed a postponed attempt by BlackBerry to unveil BBM its Android and Apple app in September. Over 10 million people worldwide downloaded the BBM Android and Apple apps within the first 24 hours of its availability. To get the fastest possible access to BBM, Android and iPhone users should visit from their Android or iPhone browser. Once they’ve downloaded the app, users should launch it and enter their mail address to hold their spot in line. BlackBerry will send them an email when they reach the front of the line. Customers can then log in and start using BBM. Source: ITWeb Africa, 25 October 2013
  12. 12. APPLE UNVEILS TWO NEW IPHONES: THE 5S AND 5C For the first time ever, Apple unveiled two new iPhones, a traditional upgrade of its iPhone 5 as well as a simpler, cheaper version. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C are a reaction to a changing smartphone market. The iPhone 5C will sell for as little as $99, for a 16GB version, and $199 for one with 32GB of storage. The 5S features a handful of performance upgrades, including what Apple calls a dramatic increase in processing speed. It will have the first 64-bit chip in a smartphone -- Apple's A7 -- which is tested to be at up to twice as fast as the iPhone 5's processor. The list of new features include: a motion co-processor, that will let the phone be used as a fitness tracker along the lines of a FitBit. Battery life will be "the same or better" than the iPhone 5 and its camera will have 15% more active sensor space, improved white balance and auto-focus, and a new flash. Also its camera will, for the first time on iPhone, allow video in slow motion. The most dramatic new feature on the phone is Touch ID, a fingerprint scanner for added security. The iPhone 5S will sell for $199 for a 16GB version, $299 for a 32GB model and $399 for the top-end 64GB phone. Source: CNN, 11 September 2013
  13. 13. APPLE ‘S IOS 7 AND MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE Apple Inc unveiled iTunes Radio, a free music streaming service that is a key part of overhauled mobile software that the company called the most revolutionary re-design of its operating system since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. As Apple kicked off its annual conference in San Francisco for its developers, executives also showed off a new line of Mac computers and said that updated Siri voice software used on the iPhone now incorporates Microsoft Corp‘s Bing search engine. iTunes Radio, which will compete against Pandora Media Inc, allows users to customise by genre and personal taste. The service is free with ads across Apple’s devices, including Apple TV. It is free of ads for subscribers to iTunes’ Match, a digital content feature. Called iOS 7, the smartphone and tablet platform redesigned by resident creative honcho Jonny Ive comes with a new edge-to-edge look that uses translucency to highlight underlying content, new typefaces, and new icons. Apple plans to make iOS 7 available in the fall. Source: BusinessTech by MyBroadband, 10 June 2013
  14. 14. TELKOM LAUNCHES TELKOM MOBILE Telkom announced the launch of Telkom Mobile which it said is aimed at data-hungry consumers that make high volumes of voice calls. 8ta will remain as a “sub-brand” of Telkom Mobile, said Attila Vitai, managing director of Telkom Mobile. The new Telkom Mobile is based on an existing robust and growing network that will benefit from continuing infrastructure investment, Vitai said. The new brand is positioned to take advantage of changes in consumer knowledge, expectations and behaviour, Vitai said. “Pretty much everyone has at least one mobile device and most use them for more than basic calls and messaging. There is a significant core group of consumers who expect to be able to do more with their devices in their own time and on their own terms.” Vitai emphasised that 8.ta will continue to be the brand name for a core set of products within Telkom Mobile, which is a business unit within Telkom Group. Source: BusinessTech, 19 March 2013
  15. 15. THANK YOU