• BURN MEDIA
    • Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
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      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
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      Startup news for emerging markets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!
  • Review: Vodafone Webbook — cheap, plastic, nasty

    The Vodafone Webbook is cheap, incredibly cheap (around R1 500 ). As such, criticising it feels a little odd. It’s a bit like taking apart a soup kitchen for not having an internationally renowned wine list or the local corner café for lacking the nuances of haute cuisine in its cooking. Here’s the thing though, the Webbook feels cheap, something designed to throw to an unwashed proletariat desperate for the democratisation of technology. I get that there’s a reason it costs so little, but surely Vodafone could have given us just a little bit more? Allow me to return to...

  • The continuing rise of activist media and the demise of the Fourth Estate

    In a recent article, I pointed out that activist media, such as the posts, tweets, photos, and videos produced by the Occupy Wall Street activists, will become increasingly influential, while the establishment media, such as CNN or New York Times, will decline in influence. The reason is that the business model for establishment media is under siege and that means cutbacks in resources. There are simply fewer journalists, editors, photographers, camera operators, and there will be even fewer in the future as cutbacks continue to decimate the ranks of media professionals. But activist media needs no business model, it is staffed...

  • Quitting Facebook is like attending your own funeral

    Quitting Facebook --- It’s one of those things you think about every time your mother comments on a photo of you, or a high school buddy boasts about a new business venture, or a good friend feels the need to fill your day with his newborn’s bowel movements. The first time I gave it any serious thought was when it was reported that facebook had developed face recognition technology, my initial reaction was. "So who cares? It was bound to happen eventually." So what if I have shared so much of my personal life online that a computer program...

  • The world’s cheapest tablet goes live

    The tablet market has exploded with new devices shipping from every vendor under the sun, but most of the media focus has been directed at who can provide a real competitor to the iPad. In India, the Aakash tablet is taking an different tack. It has already picked up over 300 000 prelaunch bookings for its commercial version that goes on sale next month -- it must be doing something right. So what is so exciting about the Aakash that has Indian twitter community tweeting like crazy? To begin with, the Aakash (also branded the Ubislate) is pitched as the...

  • Canadian IT company busted for hosting Syrian govt websites

    Investigations are under way after a think tank based at the University of Toronto reported that Syrian government websites are being hosted on servers based in Canada. The report claims that 17 Syrian websites including those of the Ministries of Culture, Transport, Social Affairs and Labour, as well as Syrian television network Addounia TV, are being hosted by iWeb Technologies, a Montreal-based company, through several intermediary companies. In reaction to the report, iWeb issued a statement saying, "Canada has enacted targeted sanctions against certain Syrian government entities and individuals. Canada has not enacted a broad embargo against doing business...

  • Simon Cowell joins Twitter — mocks employees, battles Piers Morgan

    When news broke that Simon Cowell, a professional giver of opinion, and rumoured transatlantic music mogul had joined Twitter, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Bar the slight Spartacus moment at the end of the tweet, Cowell’s first was the usual Twitter fair, "It's official, I know it's taken a while. It's really me! We're live in 10 minutes. I'll keep you posted. Lots of love #iamsimon". Of course, Cowell is famous for his frankness and it was not long before Twitter-etiquette was forgotten. The following tweets -- all sent out during the live broadcast of his "reality" television...

  • SA’s Praekelt Foundation scoops international mobile marketing award

    The Praekelt Foundation has been named the first South African winner of the Social Impact Category of the 2011 Mobile Marketing Awards for Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, held in Los Angeles. The foundation, which "builds open source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in poverty" was honoured for its YoungAfricaLive project. The project, hosted on the Vodafone Live mobile web platform, is essentially a mobile community where people can discuss “critical issues facing Africa’s youth”. According to the foundation, these include "love, sex, relationships and HIV/AIDS". YoungAfricaLive,...

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 smashes sales records

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has pulled in US$775-million in sales worldwide during its short five-day release period. This puts it in line to eclipse Call of Duty: Special Ops, which managed to rake in US$1-billion in sales. Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision was über-chuffed at the success of his shooter empire saying, “Life-to-date retail sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded US$6 billion worldwide, which makes Call of Duty one of the most valuable entertainment properties in the world.” Comparisons paint a fuller picture of gaming success for Modern Warfare 3.Call of Duty: Black Opsearned US$650-million during the same five-day period, while...

  • Rio Ferdinand, Sepp Blatter engage in tweet war over racism

    In the wake of claims by FIFA president Sepp Blatter that there was no racism in football, Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand has taken to Twitter to express his dismay, resulting in a flood of tweets from the two. Blatter has faced worldwide condemnation and calls for his resignation following the comments. When CNN asked him if racism still existed on the pitch, Blatter denied it and said such incidents should simply be settled by a handshake at the end of the match. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, he made the wide-sweeping pronouncement that "After the World Cup in...

  • PayPal lets friends send money on Facebook

    The combination of online payments and social media has hit a turning point. Online payment giant, PayPal, has released a "Send Money" application on Facebook that allows friends to send each other money. "We are bringing the largest online payments company to the world's largest social network to make it even easier to send money to your friends and family directly from Facebook," said PayPal's senior product marketing manager JB Coutinho in a blog post. "Our new Send Money application on Facebook allows users to turn those wall posts into actual gifts," she said. The app gives people the choice...

  • Avusa’s group-buying play Zappon bites the dust

    The success of Groupon paved the way for a number of clones to enter the group buying game, but not all of them have survived. South Africa's late entrant to the daily deals space, Zappon, has bitten the dust, joining a string of other small daily deal startups which found the group buying road was not paved with gold. The startup, owned by South African media company Avusa Media, joined various other Groupon-like deal sites in the country earlier this year. Its hook was that it joined the game with the backing of Avusa's various print and online brands. It...

  • SOPA, a law unto itself

    Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA was introduced by the US House of representatives as a positive means of combating piracy but, noble as its intent may be, it could fundamentally change how we use the internet. The new bill effectively hands over the user's freedom of expression to the entertainment industry. If an IP address is seen as "engaging in, enabling or facilitating copyright infringement", its domain is blocked. The corporations who own media want to shut down sites where people download illegal content. Protect IP (what SOPA is referred to in the Senate) makes this possible in a number...

  • Why your startup’s product offering should look like a McDonald’s menu

    While some might question the logic behind Alan Knott Craig Junior's purchase of MXit, one can only stand up and applaud the astuteness of his first actions as the instant messaging giant's new Owner, CEO and all round Big Cheese! His first steps were simple, focus on what MXit's core product offering is and make sure it is the best at it. I liken this to the experience when you walk into McDonald's where, despite years of success around the globe, Ray Kroc's original idea for the McDonald's product offering that "you'll get the best hamburger you ever...

  • If Android’s so popular, where are all the Android phones?

    It’s "all Android, all the time". That's what they’ll tell you. It's "totally blowing away the competition". According to Gartner, Google's pet project (which as we all know, doesn't generate any meaningful revenue) Android now commands 52.5% of the global smartphone market. Huh? Where are all these Android phones? On the face of it, the market share numbers make sense. You have a powerful operating system and ecosystem (second in number of apps only to Apple). You have numerous device makers, including HTC, Motorola, Samsung, SonyEricsson (now just Sony) and LG, pegging their future (at least on the high-end) on Android....

  • Breaking news: Visa, Fundamo unveil emerging markets MCommerce product

    Visa, the world’s largest credit and debit card network, has unveiled a new product that allows people to access a prepaid account through their mobile phone. The product, which appears to be nameless, was developed in conjunction with Fundamo, a leading South African mobile money platform bought out by Visa for $110m earlier this year. The mobile banking solution is aimed specifically at emerging markets and, according to Visa, offers "unbanked and under-banked" people in those regions a "secure, reliable, globally interoperable electronic payment account". "Reaching consumers who have previously lacked access to formal financial services with secure...