Time to play!

2012-04-05 10:05

Sometimes I really love my job.  Even though being out of the office plays havoc with my actual workload, the past two weeks have at once been crazy and truly satisfying.  I have been to some of the more interesting events happening in the industry and played with some great toys.

Let’s start with the Samsung Africa Forum (22 March – 25 March) that had a little for everyone from media, the industry to the public.  KK Park, President and CEO of Samsung Africa opened up the event confirming "We have an ambitious retail strategy to increase our market penetration in Africa: to increase Samsung's retail presence, with more branded shops, mobile plazas and service centres. Through this strategic approach, we will look to fast-track growth across the continent and today is yet another step in our approach to delivering innovation on the African continent – displayed through our key technologies and product portfolio."

With this kind of aggressive approach, small wonder Samsung has been voted as the mot valuable electronics brand in Africa.  This is set to continue especially with the launch of its “Built for Africa” programme, a Samsung Solar Powered Internet School.  This is an amazing project is a fully functioning classroom-in-a-container.  It comes complete with its own generated electricity to power the fully stocked smartboard and laptops and of course is fully connected to the internet.  The implications for Africa are vast.  With funding and support from the corporate sector as well as NGOs operating in the education territory, the “Built for Africa” concept can change the lives of millions of children for the better.  Truly inspiring.

A slew of other interesting products also caught my eye which included: the Samung O-Table, a futuristic looking, fully portable, single plate counter top stove unit that makes cooking sexy; The Samsung Beam, half phone, half projector (a projectaphone or a telejector?), fully transportable and ultra convenient.  Presentations can now take place wherever and whenever, provided of course you have enough battery power to drive it.

But, possibly the most impactful that will change the African landscape forever, is Samsung’s partnership with SES (a global satellite capacity provider). Through this partnership Samsung and SES will be providing six African countries with free satellite television (60 channels to be exact). This is a massive coup for Samsung.  The service will probably go live in the 3rd Quarter of 2012 and will be launched in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. The service will not be marketed in South Africa due to a partnership with Multichoice and their DSTV paid satellite service.  (Although, it is my personal belief that this will not stop South Africans from having access to the free channels – you know how inventive we can be).

Mobile World Congress revisited

Last week I got to spend some time with the Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) team in Johannesburg for a Media day where NSN gave us a short overview on all the products they launched at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Although not all the products were new to me, it was good to be able to spend some time with the NSN execs in a more relaxed environment and have time to really play.

NSN took us through a number of their demos including the sci-fi vision that is ‘LiquidNet’, NSN’s revelation of how Mobile Networks will work in the future. Apparently it will be fully liquid in nature and intelligently adjusting itself to peoples movements. Scary stuff.  As an example, mobile network capacity early in the morning is focussed on the suburbs as people wake up, get going and check their phones.  Consequently more capacity is needed in these areas at that time.  As the day unfolds, capacity requirement shifts towards business districts as people move to work, till towards the end of the day it returns to its starting place as people return home for the night.

Specially useful for major sporting events, LiquiNet will save the day by channelling excess capacity from surrounding areas which it then focuses at the stadiums or locations where the events are being staged.  Imagine Newlands last Saturday night and all the cellphone photos being snapped of the Bulls in their pretty pink strip being sent to those not lucky enough to have tickets to watch the match of the season.  As people enter the stadiums, Active Antennas move with the people into the stadium and a network of Small Cells picks up and ensure flawless coverage on the inside of the stadium.

Well this is the theory, as not all this technology is commercially available as yet.  I’m looking forward to its advent though because maybe, just maybe, the Network operators could use it to adjust their capacity to avoid the never ending dropped calls and congestion messages, South Africans live with on a daily basis.

Vodacom, MTN, CellC and 8ta are you listening?

Aside from playing with some of the most inspiring and funky technology, there are some perks to being on the senior editorial team at 3i Publishing.  Especially when one of those perks included the launch of our third title – F1 Racing SA– which joins Africa Telecoms and Rolling Stone.  Held at the Munro Hotel in Houghton, I partied the night away with Sasha Martinengo the new South African Contributing Editor for F1 Racing SA and Jackie Scheckter, nephew of South Africa’s only Formula 1 driver, Jody.

Of course, there is a technology angle here too…………and I’ll be talking more on that later.

Till next time. But, if you have any questions, chat via twitter on @darbshaw

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