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  • What lies ahead: Online mobile payments and Africa’s small merchants

    I've been pondering small business, payments and incentives quite a bit recently. Partly because of the web startups I've been seeing crop up locally, partly due to the inefficiencies in the system, and also because I'm a bit of a merchant at heart. Specifically, I think that small business in Africa will bring a major wave of activity in the online space. That some smart startups will take advantage of mobiles and the internet, and will be beneficiaries of this growth. We're all quite impressed with the peer-to-peer mobile money growth on the continent, but such numbers pale in comparison...

  • The rise of the app and Asia’s digital publishing future

    The penetration of sophisticated handsets into Asian markets is growing rapidly, as is the demand for content. Ahead of the upcoming Apps World Asia 2011 in Singapore, two of the show's experts share their thoughts on what the trend means for publishers. The race is on for content creators, publishers, news organisations and everyone in between to meet the ever changing needs of their audiences. Olivier Legrand, General Manager, Asia Pacific for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Digital Network, says his team has stayed ahead of the curve by ensuring that the newest techniques are implemented quickly. WSJ has...

  • Facebook, RIM, & Twitter to discuss ‘social media ban’ with UK government

    Following statements by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, in the wake of riots which rocked England, suggesting that social networking sites and services should possibly be shut down in times of civil unrest, representatives from Facebook, Research In Motion, and Twitter are today set to meet government officials. Though Cameron's initial statement that the "free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill… it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality" had some worrying about...

  • iPhone 5 – now launching 2012?

    Recent rumours suggesting that Apple's iPhone 5 will appear in October, have been usurped by a new set suggesting that the phone will now appear in 2012. Sources report that the iPhone 5 will appear early next year with a slightly revamped design. This rumoured late appearance of the much-anticipated mobile technology is in direct contrast to Sprint, AT&T and Verizon's, supposed fall launch of the iPhone 5. Industry analyst Scott Sutherland believes that the launch of the new phone will only take place next year. He has also said that the iPhone 5 will be heavily tied into...

  • Why emerging markets need startup accelerators to produce gold

    While I was living in Silicon Valley for a couple of months earlier this year, I had the opportunity to see how a number of the startup accelerators over there function, and also to speak to a number of tech entrepreneurs that passed through their programmes. The formal definition of an accelerator is a "programme designed to assist startup businesses with financial and/or operational resources that will increase their chance of growth and success". After seeing them for myself, my definition is slightly different. I would suggest that: "Accelerators are schools for entrepreneurs, primarily tech entrepreneurs, where you can do your...

  • Social, mobile and the cloud are the future of collaboration

    Companies are looking for easier and more cost-effective ways to collaborate within their organisations. The death of Google Wave left room for more innovative ways of collaborating. The future of collaboration seems to lie in the convergence of mobile, social and the cloud. "By 2014, all smartphones will transparently synchronise local data with at least one cloud service. By 2014, most organisations will deliver mobile applications to workers through private application stores", says vice president of Gartner Research Monica Basso. The Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Africa 2011 kicked off in Cape Town on Tuesday 23 August with a heavy focus on...

  • Should digital strategists say goodbye to their jobs?

    Okay, so maybe we're not there yet. But what will all these "Social media", "Digital", "Mobile" and "Online" strategists do when online and conventional marketing truly become integrated. Can we still justify the hyper specialisation and fragmentation surrounding digital strategy? Are these titles still relevant in an integrated 360 degree advertising world? What is digital strategy anyway? Is it a real title or just a fancy name we give ourselves to make us feel special? It feels impressive, calling yourself a digital strategist hanging around with other like-minded "strategists". Frequently it is nothing more than back slapping with little actual...

  • Samsung SMART TV D8000: How awesome is this TV?

    I always enjoy paying tribute to the most influential piece of technology in my life, the TV. It's always been there for me, the TV. The fuzzy, nostalgic feeling when I think back to my childhood, the memories of grainy images and needing to adjust the bunny ears just so. It is with a little sadness that I say that those days are long gone -- obliterated by a new era of crystal clear imagery and absolute TV awesomeness. Yes! TVs are now just too brilliant to describe. And the height of all-round viewing technology is front and centre...

  • App of the week: Photovine

    This week I take a look at Photovine, a photo sharing social network that is fast becoming a favourite app amongst iPhonography enthusiasts and casual snappers all around the world. I'm sure most of you reading this will remember the internet before the digital camera became as readily available as it is today. Back to the days when hardly anyone used a photo of themselves as a profile picture or avatar, not for fear of being recognized or anything like that, but simply because of the cost of technology and the sheer complexity of getting a decent photo of yourself...

  • HubPages CEO on Google’s Panda: Nothing seems to work!

    I met with Paul Edmondson, CEO of HubPages, and Jason Menayan, Director of Marketing, to talk about how the publishing site is dealing with the aftermath of Google's major update to its algorithm, Panda, released earlier this year. Panda has caused huge problems for publishers because it cut off massive amounts of traffic in a bid to force publishers to produce higher quality content. There have been four versions of Panda released since late February. Each new version of Panda has impacted traffic to large content sites. You can see the damage here: Pandalised: Websites Negatively Impacted by Google's Panda Algorithm...

  • Facebook beefs up sharing and privacy options

    Facebook is beefing up its security and sharing options by allowing users to be more selective regarding who they show their posts to. The social networking giant has recently launched services which are similar to those of rival Google+. Google+, Google's latest attempt at social networking, managed to secure millions of subscribers in part thanks to its selective sharing feature"Circles", which allows users to neatly order their friends into customised groups. The official post from Chris Cox, Facebook VP of products said, "Today we're announcing a bunch of improvements that make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and...

  • Facebook targets emerging markets with Vodafone 555 Blue

    The recent launch of the Vodafone 555 Blue in South Africa is an indication that social networks are more eager than ever to put their products into the hands of every day users. The phone, built in partnership with social networking giant Facebook, is particularly aimed at emerging markets. Jonathan Labin, Client Partner, Central Eastern Europe Middle East & Africa of Facebook confirmed this saying, "Facebook wants to make every phone social and Vodafone has taken the integration of Facebook to the next stage for an affordable mobile device with the Vodafone 555 Blue". "We're really happy that...

  • Gone in 30 seconds: How Venture Capitalists screen your business plan

    "The average time that a Venture Capitalist spends analysing a business plan is 22 seconds" – Speaker at the 26th Venture Capital Institute, Atlanta, 2000. Since this realisation more than 10 years ago I've often wondered whether it was entirely fair towards entrepreneurs who spend significant time and resources to develop a comprehensive business plan. But top tier venture capitalists (VC's) deal with hundreds of business plans a year, and a decision on whether to take the proposal to the next level or to reject it is often made in less than 30 seconds. This is how: Consider the 'Flight-Path' of...

  • The Big Data revolution: 5 startups mining the trend

    Big Data is, well, big. In the information age, companies are literally drowning in vast oceans of data. Petabytes of data are being gathered everywhere in the digital age at a furious rate, and by a variety of devices. Websites and devices that are collecting data on a large scale include ubiquitous information-sensing mobile devices, cameras, microphones, RFID readers, and wireless sensor networks. Most large corporates are sitting on mines of data by virtue of their everyday operations and vast networks. Social networks have also become information goldmines, generating massive amounts of user data. Harvard Business Review refers to the...

  • Blackberry unveils three new Curves

    BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) has announced three new Curve smartphones integrated with the sleek Blackberry 7 OS. The Curve 9350, 9360 and 9370 are fresh out of the oven and ready for action. The new models have been designed, in effect, for the portion of Blackberry's user market looking for an affordable phone which suits their social needs. RIM president Mike Lazaridis in a press release is quoted as saying that "The new BlackBerry Curve smartphones are absolutely stunning and offer a significant performance upgrade with an unmatched mobile social experience for the millions of feature phone...