Content marketing is rapidly growing overseas as brands realise that being a publisher online is a great way to get their products noticed and growing. As someone in the content marketing business I’m very focussed on words but further to that with the growth of Instagram and 500px it’s inevitable that imagery will eventually tell a thousand words. Here’s an infographic on the growth of visual content marketing:
With mobile penetration in South Africa already well over 100%, an increasing number of enterprises are turning to this medium as a means of communicating with their customer bases. Mobile communications tools like SMS represent an immediate, personal and cost-effective mechanism through which to reach customers, allowing large organisations to send anything from account updates to discount vouchers at the click of a button.
Yet whilst this might seem like a simple solution for enterprises looking to improve on customer relationships, large-scale mobile messaging campaigns can prove incredibly complex, and can in fact end up hindering a company’s communication efforts if not managed correctly. Corporates looking to develop and maintain in-house mobile communications tools need to factor in a number of elements, such as security and capacity management, which can prove both costly and time consuming.
Stefano Sessa, CEO of Cape Town based mobile communications provider, Panacea Mobile, believes that corporates would be best advised to seek out expert outsourced solutions.
“Specialist SMS providers are better placed to deliver high-impact mobile communication services, with existing systems able to take into consideration a number of key elements essential to their success,” explains Sessa. “Enterprises looking to develop effective communications campaigns, whilst at the same time bolstering their bottom line, can most effectively do so by taking advantage of these systems, which can communicate with core business applications, and greatly reduce their total cost-per-message.”
For large institutions, particularly those dealing with sensitive financial information, security is of paramount importance. With mobile campaigns often spanning a number of departments, from finance to the call centre, stringent user controls need to be implemented so as to protect customer information.
With every new device, be it an iPhone or iPad, that Apple introduces to the market, comes a brand new advertisement.
From acclaimed celebrities like Martin Scorsese and John Malkovich endorsing Siri to a rather uninspiring iPad Mini advertisement of which a parody was made by Conan O’Brien and one involving the Microsoft Surface tablet, new campaigns aim to impress fans, recruit new ones and boost sales.
As the end of the year approaches and we reflect on the devices, gadgets, reviews and news of 2012 let’s take a look way, way back to some Apple commercials of old.
Samsung have long been teasing the idea of flexible displays and have recently created a subsidiary, Samsung Display, which will showcase a couple of their flexible displays at CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Showcase). Reportedly the first will target smartphone users, with a 5.5 inch 1280 x 720 HD screen, while the other will be a massive 55 inch screen, obviously for television use.
According to Samsung Display, these screens curve without rendering, but don’t yet roll up. The men in white coats in the lab developed the touch panel and cover lens in addition to creating the material that becomes the main substance of the screen.
The electronics giant has long been accused of merely copying and refining in the smartphone market and this kind of innovation would surely silence their critics. If Samsung Display can perfect this kind of technology, we could see another radical shift in smartphone trends in the years to come, just like we saw after the introduction of the iPhone.
CES is kicking off in about three weeks and we can’t wait to see what kind of devices and technologies get unveiled. If these are the kind of new technologies we can expect from CES 2013, it will be a fantastic show!
This office space for a creative agency of thirty based in Los Angeles, California takes a fresh approach to the concept of the office cubicle playing with shape, texture, colour and materials.
The 6,000-square-foot space was designed by Edward Ogosta Architecture who called it a Hybrid Office where hybrid objects “exists somewhere between furniture and architecture, infusing the office functions with new iconographic presence, and abstractly reference nature and the surrounding city”.
This open plan, clean and rather stark space reveals some very clever design ideas that lend itself to a sense of calm and encourage creativity. Interaction between employees is encouraged with a number of meeting areas, a large boardroom and a gathering space surrounded by book cases called Book-Arena.
Since launching on 24 September 2012, the Ster-Kinekor app for BlackBerry smartphones has been downloaded more than 200,000 times. After being live for just over 2 months it’s now the most popular of the suite of mobile apps released by the entertainment giant, Ster-Kinekor.
The Ster-Kinekor app for BlackBerry allows users to choose their seating, view detailed movie synopses and trailers as well as enriched movie news from Africa’s leading entertainment content provider all wrapped up in an enhanced user experience, which adapts automatically to suit the entire BlackBerry range including its touch screen devices. The developers are also ready for the future. Not only is the app BlackBerry 10 ready for the BB10 launch, it is also a BBM Connected app, which makes it easy for users to share movie information and chat to their BBM friends within the Ster-Kinekor app.
“The fact that the BlackBerry version of the Ster-Kinekor app has reached this download milestone so quickly is a testament to the power of smart user-friendly design,” says Lynette Hundermark, Head of Product Strategy at Prezence Digital, one of South Africa’s leading digital and mobile web and native application specialists.
Tim Bishop, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Prezence Digital says that “Core to the mobilising of the Ster-Kinekor brand with this suite of apps was that it allows Ster-Kinekor to be able to transact and connect with all of its customers in a manner that suits their lifestyles and choices leaving nobody excluded.”
“It’s for this reason that while the focus for many other brands and agencies seem to be exclusively in the ‘trendy’ iOS and Android platforms, we at Prezence Digital are always pushing our clients to also unlock the power of BlackBerry in South Africa. Now the numbers say it all. Out of the total number of downloads to date across the Ster-Kinekor mobile app suite, BlackBerry constitutes almost 60% which indicates the larger penetration of BlackBerry smartphones in this market.”
Referring to the company as “platform agnostic”, Doug Place, marketing executive for Ster-Kinekor, said as Africa’s leading entertainment content provider, it was important to both Ster-Kinekor and customers that its digital content be available on whichever mobile device they prefer.
“Beyond providing a simple and seamless experience to our customers, the cornerstone of Ster-Kinekor’s digitising and mobilising strategy, was to ensure that regardless of their preferences, the power of film was right in the hands of our customers,” Place says.
Go check out the the Ster-Kinekor app on BlackBerry App World:
Many of us have come across penny auction websites, and almost all of them follow the same line of thought: buy credits and bid, win the item and it’s yours. Bid4Africa is following two key trends, and has one or two twists in how they operate, which in my mind give the site far more potential.
The first is that to buy bids, you send an SMS. The SMS costs you R10, and you in turn buy 100 credits (worth R10). While many readers may think this is only for the lower LSM market, they would be wrong: all of us have SMS capabilities on our phones. However, not all of us have credit cards, or at least cards that can be used online. For those of us with a prepaid cellphone package and no bank account, this website is an option. For those of us with a contract package, it is just as simple. The only drawback here might be that the only denomination is R10, and some bidders may wish to buy 1000 credits, or more, and not send so many SMSes.
Another major difference is the bidding timer. Usually, when the time left drops below 10 seconds, a new bid renews the time to 10 seconds. This kept auctions going for days, and on previous penny auction websites that I’ve seen, people complained heavily about this, claiming that the website itself had “bots” that were bidding whenever humans were not, just to keep the auction ticking along. One quick search for Smokoo on MyBroadBand will show a number of threads where that website was accused of gambling, being a scam, etc. Not so with Bid4Africa.com – when a timer appears, that is the amount of time left. I’m not sure how they make sure who bid last just before the clock ends, but I suppose technology solves this objectively.
Their offering is also priced more affordably: R10 gives you 100 credits, while most South African penny auction websites used a ratio of R5 equals just one single bid. Here’s an iPod Touch that recently went for R41,95 and the delivery is always free. (Of course, the price is not all that Bid4Africa receives.) I must admit, it’s tempting to bid at this early stage of the website’s lifespan – less people subscribed means less bidders to push you off the winning spot.
I have seen penny auction websites from numerous parts of the world, but very few that actually have traction in South Africa. Since launching, Bid4Africa has already climbed to 200 users in its first week and the site is now well-visited daily. Opening it up on your mobile induces responsive design, and it shows up well on all smartphones. Try it and see.
My sources tell me they are planning a massive advertising campaign, even using television. It will be interesting to see how far they can take this newer, better version of an already existing business model.
Every year BWB likes to take a look back at which products impressed us the most, but as is the way with technology, some of these products do disappear in the background as time goes on. So here is a quick list of our favourite things we came across in 2012:
If there is one thing we learned in 2012, it is that one cannot simply say “this phone is the best on the market”. So this year we point out the best phones from each ecosystem – choose the OS you like, and we reckon you ought to be happy with any one of these phones.
Android: While the HTC One X needs to receive an honorable mention, our favorite Android device of the year, somewhat surprisingly, is the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The biggest reason is because it has a plethora of features that you just wont find on other smartphones. It just pipped the HTC and the Galaxy SIII because it also came with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box. Yes, the other devices has the upgraded OS now as well, but not when we reviewed them. We would have loved to give the HTC One X+ a try, hopefully early in the new year.
Windows Phone: Nokia Lumia 920: Windows Phone has had a difficult journey because of a few strange choices from Microsoft, but the hardware from its partners did not disappoint. Luckily Microsoft is a bit smarter with Windows Phone 8, and the Lumia 920 really impressed us. Despite a heavy build, the phone is an incredible device. The camera is the best we have ever seen from a phone, and Nokia has thrown in a bunch of small innovations like a glove friendly screen, and built in Qi wireless charging.
iOS: Apple iPhone 5: Even though we have only had a few days with it, the iPhone 5 really is worth the hype, and it really deserves to be in this list. From an amazing looking aluminium and glass design to in incredibly light weight despite those materials, the iPhone 5 really does continue Apple’s tradition of being the best looking (and feeling) phone on the market. While the slightly taller screen does not compete with the supersized phones out there, it is at least easy to operate in one hand. While some might complain that iOS’s evolutionary design starting to look staid, iPhone users will happily go for the 5. Expect our full review after we have spent some more time with it.
Overall – this is the difficult part, because it is such a subjective choice. We are two people who typically do the phone reviews at BWB, so here is our own personal choices:
Theunis: More manufacturers came to the fore this year with well built and good performing devices, which was great to see. Unfortunately, a couple of the top devices never made it to SA and we would only get our hands on it if it were imported. The LG Nexus 4, for example, is a device we think could have made this list. Overall, the biggest surprise of this year has to be the resurrection of Nokia. Despite it’s heft, the Nokia Lumia 920 is probably the best all rounder we saw this year, thanks to the well refined Windows Phone 8 and nifty features from Nokia like the brilliant camera and City Lens. In a close second would be the Galaxy Note II followed by the iPhone 5. Just like 2012 was Nokia’s year to get back in the game, we hope 2013 could be that year for the BlackBerry brand.
Minnaar: It is not an easy choice, but the Lumia 920 really was the biggest surprise this year. I loved the build quality and excellent camera and screen. Windows Phone 8 does not need some more applications, but we hope it will improve. It was the first phone in a long time that I was not happy to send back. The iPhone 5 is a very close second – but I reserve full judgement until I have spent more time with it. You will notice we do not have a BlackBerry in this list, but 2013 will be a big year for RIM, seeing as BB10 devices will launch.
Tell us what you think – what is your favourite smartphone of 2012?