Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bigups to UCC and Warid Telecom for Championing Price Reductions in our Telecommunications Sector

Following Warid Telecom's unprecedented price cuts a few days ago, the major players in Uganda's telecom sector reacted pretty fast to announce price reductions to a record low of 3 shillings per second for calls across all networks. Am wondering why MTN, Zain and UTL had to wait for Warid to announce price cuts before they could jump on the band wagon and reduce their rates too.

If you may recall, following an announcement by the Uganda Communications Commission to fix interconnection rates across networks earlier this year, MTN ran to court to block the move, in fear of cut-throat competition. Fortunately, UCC's announcement came to fruition and call rates have dropped instantly.

We should have more new policies like this implemented in Uganda to curb unfair competition in our private sector and weed out deliberate extortion by such companies.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Google launches Android Market in Kenya, Huawei releases cheapest Android Smart Phone

With Google's recent launch of Android Market in Nairobi at the Gkenya event hosted at Strathmore University this month, mobile application developers in the East African region are gleaming with hope.

The mobile computing arena in Africa seems to be changing so fast, a scenario attributed to the 260 million plus mobile phone users on the African continent. Blue chip American tech companies are now scrambling for the African market that had long been ignored, a move that is going to spur the rapid development of the mobile technology sector.

It's evident that the mobile phone will still remain the de facto communication gadget used in Africa, and any business that is inclined to this fact will definitely rip big from the continent. Google recently invested in Mobile Messaging Solutions, the parent company of Mobile Planet, a Nairobi-based company that specializes in the development of wireless voice and data applications for mobile devices in Kenya, an indication that Google is strongly committed to investing in Africa.

With the launch of the Android Market, Kenyan mobile application developers can now build both free and paid applications, and sell them directly to Android OS users over Google's Android MarketPlace.

While Google awed Kenyan developers in Nairobi, Chinese technology firm Huawei launched a competitively priced smart phone that runs on Google's Android operating system. “Retailing at just Sh8,000, the Huawei IDEOS is the cheapest smartphone in the Kenyan market and is expected to deepen the penetration of Internet among the estimated 20 million Kenyan consumers of mobile phone services”, wrote Kui Kinyanjui in Business Daily. 8,000 Kenya Shillings is about 100 US Dollars, a price much cheaper than the 400 US Dollar plus price tag on most American Android smartphones.

Models display the Huawei U8220 Android smart phone 
during its launch at a Nairobi hotel.
Huawei seems to be taking a lead in the African mobile hardware sector, and this is evident with the several 3G wireless Huawei internet modems that are now widely used allover the continent.

It's now upon local mobile application developers to tap into the mobile computing market before foreign players take control of the entire sector.

Huawei Unveils Android Smart Phones

Huawei's U8800 Android Smart Phone

[Barcelona, Spain, February 15, 2010]
Huawei, a leader in providing next-generation telecommunications network solutions for operators around the world, showcased the world’s first HSPA+ smartphone powered by Android at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The U8800 smartphone will be commercially available in the third quarter of 2010, and able to support high-speed Internet access, which is faster than existing 3G smartphones.

The U8800 uses the Android 2.1 operating system, and integrates HSPA+ capabilities to support downlink speeds of up to 14 Mb/s. This speed allows users to download a 400Mb feature-length movie within thirty seconds. The smartphone will feature a 3.8-inch wide screen, providing users with a broader field of vision and allowing them to take full advantage of a multitude of features and Internet applications.

Kevin Tao, CEO, Huawei Device, said: "The customized Android smartphones reflect our long-term investment to develop high-end devices which enable operators to deliver enhanced and differentiated mobile services. Android being open to third party programs means that operators can add a number of various applications to the phone. The U8800 enables operators to provide tailor-made, stylish and affordable smartphones to their subscribers."
Smatkit S7

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When Your Competitors are Evil & Lazy

After a big public announcement Apple had for the iPad, CEO Steve Jobs took time in the day afterwards to have a Town Hall at One Infinite Loop, making himself available for questions from employees bold enough to stand up and take one right between the eyes.

This time, the big topics included Google and Adobe — no surprises there. Google recently unveiled its own Android-powered handset, the Nexus One, whose release prompted Jobs to perhaps over-react by announcing on the same day, that the iTunes store had served up three billion apps and that “… we see no signs of the competition catching up any time soon.” Apple’s billionth iPhone app download was greeted with great fanfare, but the two billionth not so much, so it felt a tad like Jobs was feeling some heat.

And the absence of Adobe Flash support on the iPhone for three years and counting, and now on the iPad, is either celebrated by users as a poke in the eye of one of the web’s most dextrous tools, or the most over-rated and overused crutch for decent design.

Jobs, characteristically, did not mince words as he spoke to the assembled, according to a person who was there who could not be named because this person is not authorized by Apple to speak with the press.

On Google: "We did not enter the search business", Jobs said. "They entered the phone business. Make no mistake, they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them", he said. Someone else asks something on a different topic, but there’s no getting Jobs off this rant. "I want to go back to that other question first and say one more thing", he says. "This don’t be evil mantra: It’s bullshit".

About Adobe: "They are lazy", Jobs says. "They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy", he says. "Whenever a Mac crashes, more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash", he says. The world is moving to HTML5.

The world, of course, includes Google, which last week in a somewhat more modest development bypassed Apple’s iPhone app blockade by unveiling an html5 version of Google Voice, which takes full advantage of mobile Safari on the iPhone. found it to be an impressive variation of the app Apple has neither approved nor officially rejected.

And it is, of course, in keeping with Google’s stated view (Android app marketplace notwithstanding) that the future is really in web-based applications and not in mobile apps at all. Web-based applications of the sort html5 makes much more viable.

So, great work rallying the troops, Steve — but be careful what you wish for.