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Bid4Africa takes online auctions a few steps further

Published by on Dec 20th, 2012, No Comments

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.

Our Favourite Products of 2012: Smartphones

Published by on Dec 20th, 2012, 3 Comments

 

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?

 

Leaked BlackBerry 10 screenshots reveal new UI

Published by on Dec 18th, 2012, 1 Comment

In just about a month’s time RIM will reveal what they hope will be a life raft amid a sinking ship, BlackBerry 10. Their newest operating system combined with the new devices running it could quite possibly be their final hope in the smartphone race after years of decline in this market.

Now some images of the OS has leaked onto the web, which shows the general layout of the icons, as well as what looks like a Siri-like clone. They say imitation is the highest form of compliment, and in the images it looks like RIM really like Apple and Google. There is much anticipation for the new OS and people are hoping that it will be a fresh take on how a smartphone should look and work, very much like what we saw with Windows Phone. Alas, that seems not to be the case here.

At the end of the day competition breeds innovation (especially in the electronics market), so we the consumers are the ultimate winner. It will be good to see BlackBerry come to the fold again. They have a very loyal following and that might very well be their saving grace.

What do you think of the new OS? Does it look appealing, or too much like its competitors?

CETX – Consumer Electronics & Technology Experience, Cape Town

Published by on Dec 18th, 2012, No Comments

CETX, The Consumer Electronics & Technology Experience, the only event of its kind on the African continent will be taking place in Cape Town in July 2013.

The event aims to deliver a high-energy, all-encompassing consumer electronics and technology experience, where choice is limitless, discount offers and prices as seldom seen and offering access to product experts across the industry.

 

Attractions of the event include:

  • Experience and learning zones -  features live entertainment, hourly workshops from demonstrations showcasing the latest technologies, VIP guest speakers, competitions, giveaway promotions to ‘how to seminars’.
  • Apps arena – an opportunity for you to download or purchase some of the most useful and innovative apps available.
  • Zen zone - giving you access to some great tech and apps that can help you relax.
  • Green gadgets - features the hottest tech for home that can help you save big on electricity costs, one gadget at a time!  (more…)

Infographic: How ‘Big Data’ Is Changing Everything

Published by on Dec 18th, 2012, No Comments

You’d be surprised to learn how much data our every day activities generate without us even noticing.

In our connected world there is an increasing amount of  “digital exhaust”, data resulting from all kinds of activities that’s being created every moment.

The infographic below by onlinebusinessdegree.org takes a look at the impact of big data on social, political, and economic intelligence as well as digital exhaust and privacy implications of big data.

View the infographic after the jump…

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CETX – Consumer Electronics & Technology Experience, Jhb

Published by on Dec 17th, 2012, No Comments

CETX, The Consumer Electronics & Technology Experience, the only event of its kind on the African continent will be taking place in Johannesburg in April 2013.

The event aims to deliver a high-energy, all-encompassing consumer electronics and technology experience, where choice is limitless, discount offers and prices as seldom seen and offering access to product experts across the industry.

Attractions of the event include:

  • Experience and learning zones -  features live entertainment, hourly workshops from demonstrations showcasing the latest technologies, VIP guest speakers, competitions, giveaway promotions to ‘how to seminars’.
  • Apps arena – an opportunity for you to download or purchase some of the most useful and innovative apps available.
  • Zen zone - giving you access to some great tech and apps that can help you relax.
  • Green gadgets - features the hottest tech for home that can help you save big on electricity costs, one gadget at a time!  (more…)

Vodafone App Star Challenge winners announced

Published by on Dec 14th, 2012, No Comments

Gerald Kibugi from Kenya designed the winning Tough Jungle app

The winners of the inaugural Vodafone App Star Challenge were unveiled at Vodacom World in Midrand. The international challenge included top winners from six countries across the Middle East and Africa, bringing out the best from the developers in each country.

Participating countries included Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Qatar, Tanzania and South Africa who competed in the finals held in South Africa. While the App Star challenge has been held independently in some of these countries in the past, this is the first international challenge that brings them all together.

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iPhone 5 sales begin in China

Published by on Dec 14th, 2012, No Comments

Apple’s iPhone 5 has now become available to purchase in China, it’s second largest market globally – bringing about 15 percent of total revenue, as official stores opened it’s doors from 8am. Unfortunately, the crowds were not as large as expected primarily due to the company’s reserve-and-pick-up system.

However, this is by no means a reflection of underwhelming sales. On the contrary, network provider, China Unicom has reported that it had already received more than 300,000 reservations for the new device. Sales for the iPad Mini also begun in China last week Friday.

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