Must-have devices will turbocharge telecoms, drive prices down and help revolutionise banking.
MOBILE DEVICES AND APPLICATIONS will revitalise our ICT landscape as more and more South Africans turn to on-the-go connectivity and fun – and let’s not forget our infatuation with social networks.
That’s the view from someone who should know, Nashua Mobile executive head of marketing Tim Walter. “With sleek new tablets and ultrabooks reaching the market and a revolution in mobile banking, we can expect to see more and more South Africans depending on mobile communications and devices to access data for work,” he says.
He puts ADSL’s continuing lack of impact on broadband down to a lack of fixed-line penetration and our ongoing love affair with mobile broadband. That means ADSL is a niche market and is likely to remain such for the foreseeable future. Dropping tariffs – although the drop was not as sharp as expected – have accelerated this trend.
His forecasts for 2012:
Ultrabooks become must-have gadgets. “Cynics may simply see ultrabooks as nothing more than thin notebooks or a response to Apple’s sleekest MacBooks from other PC manufacturers, but they will be one of the most talked-about gadgets of the year. Thanks to Intel’s innovations in making its chips smaller and more power efficient, manufacturers are able to make ultrabooks that are thinner and lighter than ever before while offering better battery life.” Potential drawback: Current prices tend to restrict these to early adopters. Tablets keep getting stronger. In 2011, 67 million tablets were sold worldwide, Walter quotes researcher Strategy Analytics as saying. “That’s up 260 per cent from 18,6 million units in 2010, and the market is just getting started. According to one report, record tablet shipments in the US over the last festive season resulted in one in every five Americans owning a tablet or e-reader by the beginning of 2012.” What to look out for: iPad 3, better Android devices from entry-level to high-end alike, and the arrival of the first Windows 8 tablets. The notebook as commodity. Competition from ultrabooks and tablets will drive notebook prices down. Christmas tip: By year-end, Walter says, good notebook performance and battery life will be going cheap. Innovations in mobile banking. Although cellphones are already one of the most heavily utilised devices for electronic banking in South Africa, they’re using old technology. That’s set to change as banks gear up for a mobile banking revolution; FNB led the way in 2011 with its tablet and smartphone deals aimed at getting mobile devices into its customers’ hands, as well as rich apps for mobile banking. The others are likely to emulate its success, Walter says. Gamechanging tech: “Near Field Communications, a short-range wireless technology, will allow you eventually to use your mobile phone as your wallet. Some South African banks are already trialling the technology and most newer mid-to-high range smartphones already feature NFC. Though it won’t be deployed commercially this year, expect the banks to experiment and investigate NFC very thoroughly during 2012.”
Finally, Walter sees a boom in Wi-Fi networks. SA’s congested mobile networks won’t be able to deliver significantly lower prices or better performance until more efficient tech such as 4G – so many users will use cheaper and faster hotspot access from their tablets, smartphones and notebooks… ironically, terminating in a fixedline connection to the Net.
‘Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.’ –Carrie P Snow