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The Margin Q1 2017

The Margin Q1 2017

Time to refresh?

Death and taxes, they say, are two certainties in life. Ironically, a third constant in life to be added to that list is change.

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The rate of change being pioneered and pushed by the technology sector is a defining feature. This year, the iPhone will celebrate ten years in the wild. It’s fair to say that during that decade much in the technology world has changed and it would seem that technology’s adoption in the real world has boomed too.

Apple and Samsung have been producing at least one new model of their flagship smartphones on an annual basis, each time including a handful of technology innovations. Little by little, each time they evolve the models, they’re hoping the user base will adopt these new features, from 3D touch to wireless charging to fingerprint recognition.

This speed of change isn’t limited to smartphones though, look at the wealth of innovative products that appear at CES every year. New models of consumer laptops are equally gathering speed in their time to market (perhaps not South Africa, thanks to the NRCS). Software development has exploded in recent years too. Virtually every software vendor and systems integrator is talking about digital transformation and its ultimate impact on the business world. This, if the hype is to be believed, will further accelerate the pace of change.

While this wave of digitalisation is enabling businesses to develop and produce products at lightning pace, the question that plays on my mind is, are users keeping up with the innovations? Is tech’s continually accelerating speed shedding less tech-savvy users who don’t match the pace? Could this be a key factor in the levels of interest in the recently relaunched Nokia 3310??

In this new digital state lies a wealth of connected analytics allowing companies to see what features are popular in their modern products. But it’s also a gamble, how to justify research and development costs on something that gets canned after a single generation outing because users didn’t like it? Or weren’t ready for it?

In this issue of The Margin, we look at tech adoption and the user, particularly the pace of change and the roles that user experience and refresh rate play in product evolution.

We also look at the likelihood that virtual personal assistants (like Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker) will arrive in South Africa, and what opportunities that could present. Aki Anastasiou and Arthur Goldstuck also provide their insight from visiting CES earlier in the year. And, moving along the ‘hype cycle’, we examine the wrist-bound wearables market to discover what the local market looks like today. Are we a country populated by smart-watchers or is there just a smattering of 'techno trendoids'?

In our roundtable we chatted to key executives about the local PC market going into 2020. What are the trends locally? And, what will drive sales in the next two to three years?

You’ll also find a piece about the delicate position that channel account managers find themselves in, having to balance multiple sets of interests, while trying to keep everyone happy.

I hope you find the stories in these pages interesting and insightful.

Happy reading

Adrian Hinchcliffe
Editor
adrian@itweb.co.za



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