All Articles Tagged "mobile technology"
Now, not only will Yolo be a popular Twitter hashtag , it will also be Intel’s new smartphone brand launching in Africa.
The new Yolo smartphone was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month and is being sold by Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom, which has around 65 percent of the market share in the country. The phone sells for about 10,999 Kenyan shillings (about $125). It has 500MB of data, a 3.5 –inch touch screen, and a five megapixel camera. It will also run on the Android operating system. Techweez has pictures of the new device.
Acer and Lava are also creating mobile devices so surely there will be more competition to follow. We reported recently on the first African-made mobile phone and tablet, The Way C, from Verone Mankou’s company VMK in the Republic of Congo.
Intel is increasingly enhancing its handset offerings, with a couple of new introductions internationally already. This changes the game for Intel, moving from the developed markets to emerging ones and may expand their product offerings beyond processors and into the high-volume, low-cost mobile phone market.
But for Africa, mobile has already been a big business, with functions designed to meet the needs of people on the continent, such as getting money to people far away and powering new businesses. “Today, Africa continues to develop mobile innovations that far outpace those of the United States, and these advances are building the continent’s new narrative: the world’s fastest-growing economies, a new consumer class, rising global influence, and rapid modernization,” writes The Daily Beast. “Africa’s mobile-phone technology is inspiring a generation of young entrepreneurs and leading some to wonder whether the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs may be in Silicon savannah.” An article in Africa Review, picked up from the blog writings of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, outlines the mobile needs across Africa.
But there’s still the matter of that name. You’ll recall that Drake wanted Walgreen’s and Macy’s to pay him for using the term. You’ll also recall that it was voted the most annoying word of 2012,.
Well, there won’t be any money coming Drake’s way since he didn’t trademark the phrase (a Florida restaurant took care of that) and he’s not even the first to use it in a song. (The Strokes, for instance, used it in 2006.) So it looks like the world can use the term YOLO as much as it wants. Let’s just hope the world doesn’t want to use it that much. Or if they do, they use it the way SNL did this weekend.
A number of reputable media sources are saying that Apple is working on a lower-priced iPhone that could be available as soon as this year. Ideally, this device would be geared towards emerging markets like China where the $600-plus price for the iPhone5 is too far out of reach. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if this option becomes available here as well.
The Wall Street Journal says the iPhone5 typically costs $199 with a two-year contract, $99 for older models. The price is brought down by subsidies from the service provider. In other countries, that subsidy is more scarce, so the Android, for instance, is more affordable and, therefore, the more popular choice.
Last quarter, that WSJ story reports, Apple’s share of the smartphone market fell, while Samsung said it had its best year ever. In a change of course, Apple is looking for ways to maintain its dominance. This isn’t the first time that Apple has floated the idea of a lower-cost phone. The Journal has reported on this rumor for a couple of years. In this latest version, the casing would be made out of plastic instead of aluminum and might incorporate parts from previously-owned phones.
CNET reported just yesterday that iPhones are available at Walmart, contract-free, for $45 per month. The unlocked option is being offered more and more. With more competition, there’s a need to try different strategies. Could low-cost phones be far behind?
There’s also a need for new products. The Chicago Tribune reports that Apple is working with Intel on a watch that will work with the iPhone using Bluetooth and a TV is on the way. One area where Apple and iOS developers are excelling is the app area. According to GigaOm, 40 billion apps have been downloaded since the App Store opened in 2008, two billion in December alone. There are 775,000 apps to choose from. Let us know some of your favorites.
Most Western news about Africa focuses on the seeding of al-Qaeda terrorism in nations like Yemen, or revolutionary battles against dictators like Muammar Gaddafi. But there is another, quieter disruption taking place in countries like Kenya in which black coders and tech entrepreneurs are creating their own boom. In Alex Perry’s article for Time, the author outlines numerous stories of success that have had international implications emerging from the continent, chronicling Africa’s exponential growth in the sector. Mobile tech via cell phones in particular has seen a host of creative applications sparked by African inventiveness. About the impact of cell phones on Africa’s economies, Perry reports:
According to studies by the London Business School, the World Bank and consultants at Deloitte, for every 10 additional mobiles per 100 Africans, GDP rises 0.6% to 1.2%. [...]
But this is not a story merely of how technology is changing Africa. Africans are changing technology right back. They now use text-message networks to send e mail, run social networks (South Africa’s MXit) and even verify from a bar code whether a drug is genuine or fake (mPedigree in Ghana and Sproxil in Nigeria). Africa’s influence on global technology is most marked in mobile banking: with its M Pesa service (M for mobile, pesa meaning money in Swahili), Kenyan operator Safaricom became the first-ever telecom company to create a mass mobile-banking service, setting industry standards now being copied from California to Kabul.
Africans, and Kenyans in particular, are making their presence felt online too. When Kenya erupted in violence in the aftermath of a disputed general election in late 2007, a handful of Nairobi code writers created Ushahidi (meaning testimony in Swahili), a data-mapping platform to collate and locate reports of unrest sent in by the public via text message, e mail and social media. The idea was simply to find out what was happening. Says Ushahidi co-founder Juliana Rotich: “The TV was playing The Sound of Music while we could see houses burning in our neighborhood.” But the desire to know what’s going on turned out to be universal, and Ushahidi quickly became the world’s default platform for mapping crises, disasters and political upheaval. According to Rotich, by May of this year, Ushahidi, which is free to download, had been used 14,000 times in 128 countries to map everything from last year’s earthquake in Haiti to this year’s Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring.
We can only expect more African tech companies to blow up as plans to add Internet cables in the region are executed in the coming years. The cost of connectivity will go down and the speed of the average connection will go up as a result, leading to more involvement by the already active community. Growing investment from companies like Google, which has its regional headquarters in Kenya’s Nairobi, will lead to similar inventions like cloud computing, which came out of South Africa.
But unlike South Africa, the most developed African country, Kenya is the nation tech onlookers are observing with the greatest expectations. It has promoted the free and open use of telecom, unlike leaders that over-control or underdevelop state resources to the detriment of their useful application. Kenya invests in tech infrastructure so that both companies and citizens can enjoy the Internet as “a basic human right,” the nation’s information minister told Time.
Such is its affinity for technology that “Kenya’s love for IT has earned it the nickname Silicon Savanna,” Perry wrote. Playing on the name of America’s tech hub — Silicon Valley — this moniker shows just how important the region has become as a leader in international innovation.
Read more in detail about the leaders, movers and shakers of Silicon Savanna on Time.com. Does this movement shake up your vision of Africa as impoverished and underdeveloped? Is investing in its burgeoning tech sector something you would consider? Leave your comments below!
(Time) — Cell phones have taken all the world forward, but they are positively transforming Africa. Lack of infrastructure — few hospitals, landlines and roads; little power, education or running water; small banks; sparse insurance; tiny stock exchanges — is a large part of what economists mean when they say poverty. And much of Africa is a giant, dark infrastructural void, as anyone who has flown over the continent at night can attest. The arrival of the mobile phone changed that forever. For the first time, hundreds of millions of people found themselves on some sort of grid, one that allowed them to talk to one another and the world. The take-up was astonishing. From almost none a decade ago, there are now half a billion mobile phones in Africa, roughly one for every two Africans, according to industry analyst Informa Telecoms & Media.
(Wall Street Journal) — If you’re an entrepreneur, “desk job” is likely not in your vocabulary. Chances are, you’re constantly on the move, servicing clients, meeting with vendors and keeping tabs on the competition. Whether you use a smartphone, tablet or laptop (or all three), you want to get work done wherever you go, from storing data and making payroll to tracking auto mileage and accepting credit-card payments. The good news is there are now software applications for—you guessed it—just about all of that. Increasingly, the development community has fashioned mobile programs for small-business owners, recognizing that on-the-go is simply part of running a modern enterprise, according to Ramon Ray, editor of Smallbiztechnology.com, a tech website. “They’re all about speed, efficiency and serving customers better,” he says. “They enable small businesses to do big things.”
(Fast Company) — Jokebed Auguste, a 31-year-old single mother from Mirebalais, in Haiti’s Central Plateau, has come to see her cell phone in a whole new light. A team leader in one of the cash-for-work programs run by the international relief agency Mercy Corps — she oversaw 15 colleagues in an initiative to clean up roads and canals — Auguste was among the first Haitians to begin receiving payments for the project directly through her phone. The convenience of the T-Cash system means she doesn’t have to stand in line for hours at the bank, but even more important is the security. “There’s no cash for people to steal,” she says, “and nobody knows how much money you have, or how much you’re taking out.” The “mobile wallets” are one example of a handful of new technologies that emerged in the aftermath of the earthquake that rocked the Caribbean nation one year ago — and that will likely impact disaster-relief and development efforts for years to come. More than a third of Haiti’s banks, ATMs, and money-transfer stations were destroyed in the earthquake (and even before the disaster, fewer than one in 10 Haitians had ever used a traditional bank). So last June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development created a $10 million competition to jump-start financial services by mobile phone.
(Wall Street Journal) — A new messaging service aims to keep your secrets safe. TigerText Inc., which can send texts that vanish from both the sender and receiver’s phone after a select period of time so they can’t be copied or forwarded, has developed a niche following among celebrities trying to keep their lives private. About half a million people have downloaded the service, which was started in February 2010 by four Los Angeles businessmen. To use it, both the sender and receiver must have the app, which is available free for iPhones, Android and BlackBerry devices, among a variety of others. In addition to consumers, companies in industries such as health care and banking are turning to TigerText’s enterprise version, which costs $10 per employee each month.
(CNET) — Almost a third (31 percent) of all mobile phone users in the United States own smartphones, but their adoption is higher among specific minority groups, says a report out today from Nielsen. Based on a survey conducted in December, Nielsen found that 27 percent of white mobile phone users in the U.S. currently own smartphones. But that rate was lower than the 45 percent of Hispanics, 45 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 33 percent of African-American mobile users polled who said they have a smartphone.
(The Root) — NPR reported over the weekend on a development in Haiti’s slow earthquake recovery: “mobile money” networks that allow cell phones to serve as debit cards, and more. In a country where we use Smartphone apps for everything from Twitter to “Words With Friends” to photography, this might not seem too exciting. But in the earthquake-ravaged nation, it’s huge. In fact, USAID has handed over millions of dollars to help get these systems up and running because they’ll allow aid groups to distribute food vouchers electronically, saving valuable time and resources.
(Wall Street Journal) — Wondering when you’ll get your tax refund? Well, now there’s an “app” for that. The Internal Revenue Service on Monday announced its first smartphone application, part of its effort to modernize the agency. (The tax collection agency is already on Twitter and YouTube.) The free IRS2Go phone app, which works with iPhone or Android phones, allows taxpayers to check the status of their tax refund and obtain tax tips.