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Internet in Africa takes big strides, but Hard Work lies Ahead – SEACOM CEO

Published by on May 15th, 2012, No Comments

The African Internet has taken massive strides forward over the past three years, thanks to the large investments telecommunications operators have made in new terrestrial and submarine cables. However, there is still a lot of hard work to be done before Internet services are accessible and affordable to every person on the continent.

That’s according to Mark Simpson, CEO of SEACOM, reflecting on the state of Africa’s Internet ahead of World Telecommunications Day (17 May 2012). He says that the telecommunications industry has broken many of the bottlenecks to affordable and ubiquitous broadband across the continent.

New submarine cables such as SEACOM and the recently launched WACS have helped to boost the performance of the Internet in many African countries while driving costs down for the end user. SEACOM alone has seen more than 10-fold increases in bandwidth penetration in several of Africa’s most underserved nations, driven by drops in connectivity prices and increases in terrestrial coverage.

3G cellular network technologies have helped to boost connectivity speeds to the end user and new terrestrial networks have helped to extend connectivity from submarine cable landing points into African hinterland, once only covered by expensive satellites. Many challenges still remain, including extending the reach of the international cables into vast African territories that remain underserved, says Simpson.

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Twitter is coming to your inbox

Published by on May 15th, 2012, No Comments

Twitter’s official blog has announced that it will be introducing a new email service to users with “a weekly email digest delivered to your inbox”, writes Othman Laraki, Director for Growth and International.

The email will include a summary of some of the most relevant Tweets and stories shared by those you are following on Twitter.

The stories will feature a design that is similar to that of the Discover tab, “emphasizing who shared each story beneath summaries to help you decide which ones matter most to you.” You can then click on any of the headlines to finish reading the story, tweeting about it directly from the email and view related tweets from other users.

Laraki also states that “this new email digest also features the most engaging Tweets seen by the people you follow, even if you don’t follow those who wrote them”. You will then be able to see who from your network liked or retweeted the tweet.

The new feature will be rolling out to all users over the coming weeks which you will be informed about in an email from Twitter.

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World’s thinnest phone – could this be the next iPhone?

Published by on May 14th, 2012, 2 Comments

The picture above has been circulating the internet for a couple of months, with many speculating that it might be the iPhone 5. At a glance, you can be forgiven for thinking so. For one, the aluminium strip around the phone is reminiscent of what we see on the iPhone 4. Also, the three metal contacts looks like the inclusion of a NFC (Near Field Communication) chip, which is widely regarded as being included in the newest iPhone incarnation which will be released at the end of the American summer.

However, if you look more closely at the bottom of the screen, you will see three buttons which are characteristically Android-like. That rules out, without a doubt, that it could be an Apple product.

With all the legal mudslinging going on between Apple and Android phone makers, most notably Samsung and HTC, since 2010 over patent and copyright infringements (to refresh your memory check here), Apple would not so brazenly change their one physical home button for this layout. So why would an Android phone maker use a design so blatantly copied from Apple?

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The IMC Conference 2012, Cape Town

Published by on May 14th, 2012, No Comments

The Third Integrated Marketing Communication Conference (IMC) will be coming to Cape Town in June this year.

The conference will host some of the top marketing minds in the country, showcasing the new trends of the various communication disciplines available including Advertising, Direct Marketing and Public Relations.  From this delegates will be able to select the tools that will best suit their marketing communication needs.

The conference format is divided into two sections:

1. Keynotes: local and international speakers will decipher their communication field through inspiring presentations.

2. Workshops: Throughout both days of the conference, delegates will attend pre-selected workshops which are hosted by top communication companies. Each workshop will host smaller groups of attendees, and last 30 minutes.

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‘Game of Thrones’ set to be the most pirated show of 2012

Published by on May 14th, 2012, 3 Comments

Forbes has reported that the popular medieval fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’, created for and aired on HBO, is “inspiring massive levels of piracy” especially in its second season.

This statement is based on figures obtained by BitTorrent-tracking and analysis firm Big Champagne. The figures reveal that since April, the second season of the show has been “downloaded more the 25 million times from public torrrent trackers”. In addition, the firm found that following an episode that aired on 30 April, it was downloaded more than 2.5 million times in just one day, more than any other episode in the show’s history.

While in 2011, ‘Game of Thrones’ was second to Showtime’s crime drama ‘Dexter’ as the most pirated show of that year, Big Champagne’s numbers reveal that the second season of ‘Game of Thrones’ “so far consistently top Dexter’s piracy numbers from the same point in its season last year”.

While BitTorrent is not the only site that series can be downloaded from, other sites that stream episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ are arguably more difficult to track and measure in comparison to BitTorrent.

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Rocket Internet to launch Amazon Clone in Nigeria

Published by on May 14th, 2012, 1 Comment

We have repeatedly covered Rocket Internet’s operations in SA as they aggressively go after ecommerce market share. We have now learned that they have also started targeting another one of Africa’s biggest economies, Nigeria.

TechLoy has reported that Internet giant Rocket Internet has confirmed that it will be launching an Amazon clone in Nigeria this month. The company has already launched an Amazon-clone called Lazada in Indonesia, Egypt, the Philippines and Thailand recently.

Rocket Internet has a track record for cloning existing popular web companies across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America including Airbnb and Zappos. In February, Rocket Internet launched Zando in South Africa, selling popular clothing brands in the local market. While the name of the new clone-site still remains uknown, it will sell items similarly found on Amazon including DVDs, books, electronics and games.

As part of its preparations for the Nigerian launch, Rocket Internet are reportedly recruiting local staff for its operations based in Lagos and are likely to take on some of the former employees of Kalahari Nigeria that was shut down last October by parent company MIH Internet Africa.

Instagram’s Socialmatic Camera offers on-the-go digital printing

Published by on May 14th, 2012, 3 Comments

Remember the old Polaroid camera of yore? Are you a fan of the social photo-sharing app Instagram? If the two were combined, you’d have the Intagram Socialmatic Camera. Imagine Instagram software running on an optical zoom camera, capable of not only sharing your latest inspirational photograph at the press of a button, but also of printing these digital photos on-the-go. Now imagine that this device looked like the instantly recognisable Instagram icon, and is available today!

As you can see from the images, the design of the device is modelled on the Instagram graphic you will find in the iOS App Store, and more recently, the Google Play store (read about the Android release of Instagram here). With the leather material covering the flash and the wide zoom lens and the rainbow strips, it has a genuine retro feel to it.

On board storage for the camera is an impressive 16 GB, enough for thousands of quick-snap photos. It also has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, a large 4:3 touchscreen, optical zoom and of course the aforementioned internal printer.

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Vodacom welcomes the launch of WACS Cable in SA

Published by on May 11th, 2012, 6 Comments

Today saw the commercial launch of the West African Cable System (WACS) along the coast of Africa. The cable, stretching over 14, 500km from Yzerfontein near Cape Town to London,  sees the addition of more than 40% to South Africa’s existing international broadband capacity and is expected to drive down bandwidth prices.

The launch also marks an important milestone for South African service providers, including Vodacom, who as an investor, welcomes the launch of the cable as part of its efforts in providing as much of its customer base as possible with access to the internet.

Vodacom states in an official press release that according to the Department of Communications, only around 2% of South Africans have access to fixed-line broadband, whereas 17% access broadband via smartphones.

Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer, Andries Delport said that “It’s clear that mobile technology is the quickest and most practical route to spreading Internet access to all South Africans. With a high base of the population already covered, we only need to get two key things in place and SA can quite literally take a giant leap forward. The first part is obvious – cheaper smart devices that everyone can afford. The second part is to ensure that the mobile networks can support the data traffic.”

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