(Quartz) Africa’s biggest media company will fight Netflix for control of the global streaming market

(Reuters/Mike Blake)

netflixWritten by Omar Mohammed

When Naspers, the South African media conglomerate, launched its video-on-demand (VOD) service Showmax earlier this year, the assumption was this was an attempt at keeping out Netflix. The US-based streaming platform aims to expand its service globally in 2016, including in Africa’s second-largest economy.

But it seems like this was just the opening salvo for Africa’s biggest media company. Naspers is reportedly expanding its three-month-old platform beyond the continent. The aim is to go global and challenge Netflix everywhere else, too, according to a report by Bloomberg. Naspers is hoping to attract potentially 15 million subscribers in North America, Europe, and Australasia.

The company, which already owns one of the most popular pay-TV outlet in Africa, has always believed it can compete beyond the continent. “We’ve never limited our ambition to South Africa,” Bob van Dijk, the chief executive of Naspers, said in August.

Naspers’ expansion strategy will be boosted by the partnership it has reportedly agreed with Samsung to have Showmax available on its smart TVs. Samsung controls almost a third of the global smart TV market. That’s a potential audience of about 60 million people.

But the manner in which Showmax aims to distinguish itself from Netflix appears to be around offering content that has yet to be the natural purview of the American platform. While it will continue to stock shows from the likes of CBS, the BBC and Time Warner, an area of strength for Netflix, it aims to show Africa-specific content as well, according to Bloomberg.

On this point, it has a clear edge over Netflix, at least for the moment. Through its MultiChoice outlet, the pan-African pay-TV platform, the company has access to significant content from across the region. This could help it attract the sizable African diaspora to its platform, which is estimated to be about 30 million people worldwide.

In addition to that, Naspers owns a stake in a Middle Eastern VOD platform that specializes in Bollywood and Arabic content. Housing this kind of programming could attract this demographic to Showmax and once again position itself differently from Netflix.

Naspers has shown itself to be astute in playing at a global level, particularly in emerging markets. It invested early in the Chinese internet giant Tencent and the Indian platfrom Ibibo, one of the country’s largest travel companies. With Showmax, Naspers—a $65-billion business and Africa’s biggest company by market value—is making another bet at a global audience.

To compete, Netflix needs to up its game, too.

This article was published on Quartz Africa.

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Social Media giant, Facebook, has opened its first office in Africa to further the company’s commitment to help businesses connect with people and grow locally and regionally.

According to the company the branch will be based in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, Facebook’s newest business office will be headed by Ogilvy veteran, Nunu Ntshingila, the company’s new Head of Africa.

Facebook is already an important part of how people and business connect in Africa. This office will support the significant growth in businesses and people using Facebook — Facebook’s active user population in Africa has grown 20% to 120 million in June 2015 from 100 million in September 2014. More than 80% of these people access Facebook from their mobile phones.

“We are inspired by the incredible ways people and businesses in Africa use Facebook to connect. This momentum in Africa comes on top of strong advertiser partnerships and excellent adoption of our products across all regions. In Q1 2015, 52% of our total ad revenue came from outside the US and Canada. But we’re just getting started,” says Nicola Mendelsohn, VP, EMEA, Facebook. Read more

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the City of Johannesburg’s transformation drive into a Smart City received a boost on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, when the metropolitan signed a collaboration deal with Microsoft South Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement between the two organisations was signed by Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Councillor Parks Tau, and Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Mr Ali Faramawy, at the Metropolitan Centre in Braamfontein.

This comes just over a month after Mayor Tau unveiled the transformation plan of the municipality into a Smart City that thrives on easily accessible state of the art citizen interaction platforms such as free Wi-Fi hotspots and applications that boost service delivery.

The new public-private agreement will see Johannesburg and Microsoft  explore ways of partnering on a variety of programmes and initiatives to achieve their mutual goals of skills development, job creation, promotion of SMME’s – as well as to attract foreign direct investment into the City.

Speaking shortly after the signing, Mayor Tau said: “The agreement paved the way for joint efforts in the promotion of innovation and an easily accessible IT economy within the City. This will help us bridge the current digital divide faster.”

“Microsoft has already demonstrated its great appetite to bring value into the public sector through its push to take the lead in cloud-based approaches for particularly smaller businesses,” he said.

by Staff Writer @ IT News Africa

Johannesburg Smart City gets boost from Microsoft.

“This speaks to several of the City’s developmental and job creation programmes such as Jozi@Work, Vulindlel’eJozi – and the much anticipated Jozi Digital Ambassadors programme. The fact that Microsoft ‘s developmental objectives match those of ours as a City gives us confidence that a lot is to come from our partnership for the overall benefit of the people of Johannesburg,” said Mayor Tau.

Mr Faramawy said the partnership with Johannesburg is part of the global software giant’s programmatic value and contribution to areas of public interest.

“Microsoft continues offering value to small and emerging businesses, particularly in the digital entrepreneurial space. This includes a number of programmes that provide support ranging from free or very low cost software – to online business support tools to physical locations where entrepreneurs can operate,” he said.

Both Johannesburg and Microsoft have recently been involved in running hackathons and other developmental competitions for both applications and games in a bid to seek out new technology and talent.

“Through the new partnership with Johannesburg, Microsoft is very keen to calibrate this process for bottom of the pyramid impact,” Mr Faramawy said.

Read More at IT News Africa 

Figure

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JAMA

SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY AND THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE

The human body is soft, curvilinear, and continuously evolving; modern electronic devices are rigid, planar, and physically static. Recent research has yielded a complete set of advanced materials, manufacturing approaches, and design layouts that eliminates this profound mismatch in properties. The resulting devices can intimately integrate onto or into the human body for diagnostic, therapeutic, or surgical function with important unique capabilities in biomedical research and clinical medicine. These emerging technologies have strong potential to improve human health and to enhance the understanding of living systems. They fall into 3 categories—soft, injectable, and bioreabsorbable electronics—each demonstrated in extensive animal studies and several in initial human trials. The Figure presents images of bioelectronic devices.

Figure. Images of Biocompatible Electronic Devices A, Inflated balloon catheter equipped with arrays of sensors for pressure, flow, and contact along with actuators for ablation therapy and light-emitting diodes for optical characterization. B, Three-dimensional membrane wrapped around the entire surface of the heart for cardiac electrotherapy. C, Actively multiplexed sheet of electronics laminated onto the surface of the brain for high-resolution electrocorticography. D, Wireless electronics mounted on the skin for continuous, multimodal monitoring of physiological status. E, Injectable optoelectronic system threaded through the eye of a sewing needle and wrapped around its shaft to highlight the small dimensions and flexible mechanics. F, Bioresorbable electronic circuit, partially dissolving in a drop of water. All of the constituent materials dissolve at controlled rates into harmless end products when exposed to biofluids.

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new interactive website

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South African township based business owners have jumped at the opportunity to join a new interactive website, designed to help them connect with their customers and grow their business.

The new website, cando.sa.com, launched by Nampak Bevcan’s consumer facing brand Can Do!, at the end of last year,  provides local outlet owners with a platform to profile their businesses as well as engage and interact with potential and existing customers, ultimately increasing their customer base and sales.

The new multidimensional mobile compatible site allows all “kasi based” owners of restaurants, taverns, bars, shisa nyamas and even carwashes to upload their business’ profile and advertise their upcoming events free of charge on the online platform. The only prerequisite being that they sell beverage cans as part of their product offering.

The interactive online community allows young South Africans who are ready to unleash the fun an opportunity to connect with one another and find the freshest and safest can-in-hand parties at township outlets around Mzansi. Read more

worldometers.info

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According to worldometers.info, the population within South Africa sits at just over 53 million individuals. To add to the figures, Nigeria currently has over 183 million individuals populating its city’s.

Africa has always been viewed as a continent that isn’t very connected in terms of internet speeds and the number of users – compared to other parts of the world. However, the latest statistics say otherwise. Read more

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Drones are a controversial topic when it comes to national security. However cargo drones, with their potential applications for last mile delivery in remote areas and humanitarian emergency situations, are tipped to be an exciting area of innovation for Africa.

But who is behind the push for cargo drones in Africa, why has it got the business world so excited, and how is progress on this embryonic technology panning out?

Cargo drones are small pilotless airplanes designed to transport 20-30kg packages across distances of 80km or perhaps further. The technology could have a revolutionary impact for delivering products to remote, poorly connected communities in much of Africa. Read more

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Ghana’s mobile phone sector is booming. The country’s regulator NCA reported that the country’s mobile phone operators signed up some 400,000 subscribers during February, a sign that the sector is prime for a new round of promotions.

The regulator said that the total number of customers has now reached 31.03 million. Read more

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MTN Business today unveiled the first truly Pan African Internet of Things (IoT) platform, providing African enterprises with greater control and advanced management features for their connected devices and sim cards.

The launch also sees the introduction of a global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) sim card, which gives customers the same rate for M2M activity across MTN’s footprint in Africa. Read more

Skype Translator, a real-time voice/video translation service

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Microsoft is broadening its Skype Translator preview to include all Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users.

Skype Translator, a real-time voice/video translation service, has been available to select testers only since late 2014.

On May 12, Microsoft opened the testing program by removing the sign-up and waiting processes. To test Skype Translator, users need to download the test build of the Skype Translator application from the Windows Store.

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