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  • Emerging market journos embrace social media, unlike Western news brands

    The stringent social media policies adapted by some Western newsrooms indicate an inflexibility in adapting to a changed information and news environment. This has left the door open for journalists in developing economies to step up and drive adoption of social media tools in journalism. Important US-based papers such as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are choosing to restrict use of social networks by journalists. These are papers with proud journalistic traditions which have helped define modern journalism. An extract from the Washington Posts' social media policy reads, "Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything...

  • Naspers buys another price comparison site

    PriceCheck, a South African price comparison website, has been acquired by MIH, the investment arm of Naspers, the emerging market internet giant. Naspers recently made waves by announcing it was to buy a stake in a Russian internet company that holds a stake in Facebook, social network game creator Zynga and instant messaging service, ICQ. Last year, Naspers acquired a 91% stake in Brazilian e-commerce group Buscape.com Inc for $342-million as part of its strategy to expand into emerging markets. Buscape's flagship site is also a price comparison site. Contractual obligations are forcing parties in the PriceCheck deal to remain tight-lipped about...

  • Is the Google-Verizon proposal really a threat to net neutrality?

    The internet has been buzzing lately with talk of the threat to net neutrality posed by the proposal between Verizon and Google, which proposes a framework for regulations to ensure net neutrality, through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Although the policy is only a proposal and is not yet legally binding, it has caused uproar from net neutrality proponents. The criticism has largely been levelled at Google for selling out their cause. Google has long been a staunch advocate of net neutrality and the policy proposal has called into question whether Google’s “Do no evil” motto has finally...

  • Will the property sector embrace social media?

    At the recent Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, it was categorically stated that the social media future has already arrived in the US property sector. This was evidenced by the fact that almost all of the 2000 property professional attendees carried social-media-enabled smart phones, while 25% already utilised the cutting edge iPad. Formal research confirms these empirical markers. A recent report by eMarketer says that 60% of internet users aged 35 to 44 (and 50% of those in the 45-to-54 age group) will use social networks at least once a month, and that 57.5% of all internet users (127-million...

  • SA Blog awards set to come of age in 2010

    Many South African blogs in 2010 have moved from a fun sideline project to a lucrative form of business. Keeping in line with this trend, the SA Blog Awards have also matured and bloggers will see statistics from their site forming part of the evaluation criteria for the judges in each of this year's categories. Now in its fifth year, the awards will take place on 25 September, and will feature more judges per category than in the past. The judges will be experts in their respective fields with a keen interest in social networking. Given the past success of the...

  • Global mobile data traffic nearly triples in one year: Ericsson

    Mobile broadband currently accounts for only 10% of total mobile subscriptions but a rapidly increasing majority of the traffic. Ericsson's measurement of actual traffic in networks around the world show that global mobile data has nearly tripled in the last year, growing more than 10 times faster than voice. Mobile data traffic continues to grow exponentially even after the historic cross over point in December 2009 when data first exceeded voice, reported by Ericsson earlier this year. According to Ericsson statistics, global measured mobile data traffic stands at nearly 225 000 terabytes per month as of the second quarter...

  • Interview: Cell C CEO on blogs, social media and the end of cellphone calls

    Lars Reichelt, CEO of Cell C, announced some time ago a strong push by the mobile operator into innovation and social media. The smallest of the mobile operators, behind Vodacom and MTN, Cell C has caused a recent storm by launching a new advertising campaign, straddling both traditional and social media, involving popular comedian Trevor Noah. The campaign has attracted both praise and criticism, and quite an outburst in the blogosphere in particular. Reichelt must be one of the few CEOs in the world who has joined the fray, personally commenting on various articles on this site too, and...

  • Declining search quality: Is Google losing the battle?

    Has Google lost the battle against the companies that game its system of ranking search results? It certainly seems that way from my anecdotal usage. John Byrne, the former BusinessWeek editor seems to feel the same. He recently launched a site that looks at business schools: Poets and Quants. He published a post detailing his frustration at Google's listing of the site, or rather its failure to list the site. C-Change Media Inc.: Google? Where are you? "One of the most fascinating aspects of our debut is what Google has been able to discover, or fail to find, about the site. "...So what...

  • Finding your unique voice on Twitter

    Twitter is an acquired taste. If Facebook is checkers, then Twitter is chess. It's the VIP room to MySpace's open house party, the platform with almost direct access to celebrity's biggest and brightest entertainers, to politicians, brands and thought leaders, it's undoubtedly the juggernaut driving today's social media. And I do mean, literally, "today's". There's probably another platform on the rise in some kids dorm room as I type this --TwitMySquareFace -- or something of the ilk. But, right now, if you want to sit at the cool kid's table and not be the elephant in the room, then...

  • How to build global technology companies from Africa

    During a relaxed and informal panel discussion at the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg entitled “Building for the Global Market. Lessons and learnings from the coalface”, Leila Janah of Samasource, Sheraan Amod of Personera and Malcolm Hall of Open Box Software spoke about the challenges of building tech companies while being based in Africa. The discussion was facilitated by Toby Shapshak of Stuff magazine. ON BREAKING INTO THE AMERICAN MARKET Leila Janah: The biggest challenge we face is that Africa has a damaged reputation in the service sector. And being a non-profit doesn’t exactly help us either. There is a...

  • UX guru Andy Budd warns that websites ignore usability at their peril

    At the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg, Clearleft’s Andy Budd spoke at length about why, given the choice, users will always pick easier to use products over better architected products. Using real world examples, Budd explains how this principle should be applied to website design in order for websites to compete effectively. Decide whether you sell a product or an experience Using the coffee industry as an example, Budd spoke about the coffee farmer that makes around 1p for a cup of coffee while a gourmet coffee shop in London sells that same cup for upwards of £2.30 a cup. The...

  • Former Virgin online marketing head on the future of online advertising

    Alex Hunter is an independent digital ninja, brand consultant and angel investor who built a grassroots marketing campaign for Virgin America before heading out on his own. He shares his insights on getting large brands online, paywalls and what the future of online advertising might look like. MB: Should online publishers be looking at more innovative ways of generating revenue online? AH: There are so many digital options available; from wap sites and apps, to websites, to Facebook pages, to viral video campaigns, to email campaigns – how does a brand decide what to prioritise, what to tackle first and...

  • Samasource CEO on bridging the digital divide and creating a global meritocracy

    While aid programs in developing countries are ubiquitous, precious few empower the people they’re trying to help on a sustainable, ongoing basis. One that bucks this trend is Samasource, a non-profit based in San Francisco that distributes digital work from large US multinationals in manageable chunks to poor but educated workers in developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, India, Pakistan and Haiti. Samasource workers do basic digital work required by US companies that American workers wouldn’t necessarily be willing to do. For example, Google Maps has local business information that changes when a company moves, expands or shut down....

  • The Internet’s profound impact on the way we live

    The average age for Nobel Peace Prize winners is 63, but earlier this year it was decided by popular US tech culture magazine Wired that the most deserving recipient was only 33-years old. That's quite young in Nobel terms, but when one considers the “accomplishments” of the Internet, it is perhaps not such an unreasonable nomination. In a very short period of time the Internet has had a profound impact on the way we live. I have no doubt that its social repercussions will take decades to be fully understood, but it has already produced much benefit to the world....

  • Mesh Potato device could dramatically lower connectivity costs

    Steve Song has spent the past two years as a fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, looking at ways to lower the costs of communications infrastructures. On Day 1 of the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg, he introduced the fruits of his labour to a captive audience, the Mesh Potato, a low cost wireless mesh device that you can also plug into a normal phone to provide cheap and simple connectivity. During his presentation, Song made a passionate plea for lowering the costs of communication in Africa, arguing that innovation will never take place until, in the words of Clay Shirky, we...