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Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge Define What’s Next in Mobility

Samsung Electronics today announced its entirely redefined smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. Creating a new standard for design, craftsmanship and performance, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge seamlessly blend premium materials with the most advanced Samsung technology to offer consumers an unmatched mobile experience. By Staff writer

“With the all new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, Samsung is offering what’s next in mobility, along with a new standard to drive the global mobile agenda,” said JK Shin, CEO and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “By listening to our customers, and learning from both our success and missteps, we continuously push forward new technologies and ideas. With a reimagined design, robust partner network and novel services, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge offer users the ultimate experience in smartphone options.”

Beauty Meets Purpose
Carefully crafted from metal and glass, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge blend purposeful design with powerful features. The Galaxy S6 edge, particularly, shows unique and outstanding beauty while also providing a solid grip and an immersive viewing experience with the world’s first curved display on both sides. Its glass body, made from the toughest glass to date, Corning® Gorilla Glass® 4, is available in an array of colorful jewel tones, including White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald, which elicit a unique visual texture as it reflects natural light. This timeless design required first-of-its-kind glass crafting technology and unmatched quality control, setting the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge apart from every other mobile device on the market. The premium device aesthetics deliver true value and are complemented by a totally new and lighter interface that greatly enhances usability and functionality. A refined and fully optimized user experience simplifies applications and offers features and settings in a more intuitive way.

Vivid Images with a Fast, Bright Camera
The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are equipped with an incredibly vivid, bright and fast front and rear camera. The F1.9 lenses and high resolution sensors on both front (5MP) and rear (16MP) cameras provide the most superior image quality in a smartphone, even in the dark. In addition, Auto Real-time High Dynamic Range (HDR), Smart Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and IR Detect White Balance provide advanced light sensitivities and crisp camera solutions. Furthermore, a new “Quick Launch” feature give users fast, direct access to the camera from any screen in just 0.7 seconds* by simply double clicking the home key button. These advanced camera functions enable users to capture their most precious and personal moments in uncompromising quality, however and wherever they want.

Super Charging and Cord Free
With fully embedded WPC and PMA certified wireless charging technology, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are setting a new industry standard for universal wireless charging. The devices work with any wireless pad available in the market that supports WPC and PMA standards. They also sport incredibly fast wired charging, 1.5 times faster than the Galaxy S5, providing about 4 hours of usage after only 10 minutes of charging.*

Cutting-edge Core Technology
The thin (6.8 mm/7.0mm edge) and lightweight (138g /132g edge) Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge integrate the most advanced, cutting-edge, Samsung core technology available today. The world’s first 14nm mobile processor with 64-bit platform, new LPDDR4 memory system and UFS 2.0 flash memory provides higher performance and enhanced memory speed with lower power consumption. Moreover, the world’s first 1440P/VP9 hardware based codec enables users to enjoy high resolution streaming video while also using less power. In addition, the 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screen offers users the highest pixel density of 577ppi. Enhanced outdoor visibility with a brighter display (600cd/mm) lets consumers experience content without compromise – anywhere, at any time.

Easy and Protected Mobile Payment
Samsung Pay, a new, easy-to-use mobile payment service that will be compatible with more locations than any competing offering in a single application, will launch on Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge in the United States during the second half of this year. Protected by Samsung KNOX, fingerprint scanning, and advanced tokenization, Samsung Pay works with both Near Field Communication (NFC) and Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology to make it device, merchant and card issuer agnostic.

Enhanced Security
The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are built on the upgraded Samsung KNOX, end-to-end secure mobile platform, offering defense-grade features for real-time protection from potential malicious attacks. Both of these new devices are also ready for immediate enterprise adoption, with market leading MDMs and KNOX enhancements enabled at launch to simplify and improve mobile device management. Additionally, the Find My Mobile feature secures lost devices and protects personal information through a number of services, including the all new remotely controlled “Reactivation lock.” With an enhanced touch-type fingerprint scanner, it also provides quick authentication and saves encrypted data in secure device storage.

The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge will be available globally starting from April 10, 2015 with 32/64/128GB storage options available in White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz (Galaxy S6 only) and Green Emerald (Galaxy S6 edge only).

Watch Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge Unpacked event

Galaxy S6 event live stream. Watch Samsung Galaxy S6 launch live. Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 video stream from MWC 2015 in Barcelona. Galaxy S6 launch live stream. Galaxy S6 launch live today!

Data Storage: The Way Forward for Banks?

In the couple of weeks since Santander’s chairman, Ana Botín, told the Financial Times that Santander has plans to lease out its datacenter facilities to corporate customers, I have been struggling to think of a precedent. By Lawrence Freeborn, Senior Research Analyst, IDC Financial Insights

After years in which the discussion has been about how banks are bound to be displaced by tech companies, here is a rare example of the opposite happening, or at least the opposite possibility being held out by one prominent lender. “As I think how I am going to compete with all these new technology players, I can offer the same services as some of these big guys,” Botín told the FT.

This does seem like a genuinely new departure for a global bank, and every example of financial institutions providing digital storage so far has been in the consumer rather than business banking space. Although Santander itself hasn’t tried this, a few banks have offered online cloud storage a la Dropbox or Google Drive for a couple of years.

This has corresponded with banks scaling back their provision of actual physical storage to customers, with the likes of HSBC, Lloyds, and TSB having dropped their safe box products for new customers, while Barclays now provides only storage of paper documents in wallets, instead of safe boxes as in the past.

So offering online storage instead may go some way to replacing the physical vaults of old, and as such can just be seen as a sign of the times.

Here in the U.K., Barclays launched its version of this service, called Cloud It, in late 2013. Hosted by Barclays, this offers personal and business customers a cloud storage service for any documents they choose to upload.

Although Santander probably feels it has little to lose, having already made the investment in its new datacenter, it’s hard to imagine that banks will really be able to compete head on with the giants of the datacenter business. Bundling other types of service, like insurance, is a much more obvious fit. The biggest criticism to make is that Santander should make sure it can walk before it can run. There are plenty of things higher on the wish lists of corporates than datacenter storage.

“IDC believes that focusing on delivering core offerings well and innovating in banking offerings rather than moving into essentially unrelated services, should always be the guiding principle of any bank. This is the surest way to ensure that a bank can protect its business from the tech companies that are looking to move into banking: much better than trying to move the other way. Having said this, at least it shows Santander is thinking creatively about sweating its assets” said Lawrence Freeborn, Senior Research Analyst, IDC Financial Insights.

To get in touch with Lawrence: @IDCLawrence

New mobile payment kid Zazoo aims high

Zazoo, a new division of the JSE and Nasdaq-listed company Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc, is hoping that its payment solutions for the mobile industry will enable it to conquer global markets.

The firm is eyeing speedy global expansion focusing on the UK and other parts of Europe, US, India and other developed and emerging markets. The company has seen Zazoo’s global footprint expanding into 12 African countries, and it also has a presence in Colombia, India, Spain, South Korea, the Philippines, the UK and the US.

Zazoo plans to take Net1’s patented technology, such as mobile virtual card (MVC) payment app and soon-to-be launched Biometric Variable PIN, to new markets, using London as a convenient hub from which to coordinate all its global deals.

Philip Belamant, the MD of Zazoo, said that the move would unlock the value of Zazoo’s products and solutions and “build a technology company for the future”.

Said Belamant: “We intend creating a new paradigm for secure payments across mobile and internet channels, and we plan to capture a large portion of this market, which has remained relatively untapped due to the lack of direction and focus which exists currently.”

International expansion, however, is not an easy task, especially in the fast-paced technology market, which is dominated by bigger players. “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Being in such a regulated industry, there are many obstacles that make it increasingly harder to break new ground.

Philip Belamant, the MD of Zazoo
Philip Belamant, the MD of Zazoo

“It will be challenging, but we know we can overcome these by competing with our IP (intellectual property) and our innovative solutions,” said Belamant.

The company has already launched its mobile payment technologies, such as VCpay, a virtual credit card app, in India and SA. It will intensify its growth in both markets and is planning to globalise this innovative product.

Zazoo believes that its VCpay card cannot be cloned or compromised. A cardholder generates a MVC offline and no one else can access it until the transaction is complete. The offline capability prevents card skimmers from accessing card details through conventional backend systems.

With an MVC network, coverage or signal is not an issue as the process of creating a card can be completed offline. As part of the safety of the app, the MVC card can be configured to expire immediately after the transaction. This banking suite operates on any type of mobile device and allows for a multitude of funding options and payment services.

In SA, the projected target is around 500 000 users initially and the number could grow in other markets. The growth projections may not be far-fetched, especially using India as an example.

E-commerce in India is expected to grow to over $30bn by next year from $13bn, according to an e-Tailing India study.

As internet users in India reach numbers of up to 400m in 2016 from 240m, driven in large part by the proliferation of low-cost smart phones, the need to make payments online in a simple and secure manner will also increase substantially.

Until now, the majority of online payments in India have been completed using credit cards, which are available to less than 2% of the population, or by cash on delivery. For online payments, virtual cards rather than plastic cards are more likely to be used in the future because they are more secure.

This is also a trend in other markets such as Colombia, Brazil, Nigeria and Kenya.

Zazoo will also continue targeting under-banked and banked customers who wish to use mobile as a payment or secure instrument, biometric verification and creating a secure atmosphere for card payments.

With regard to expansion into Brazil, Belamant said that “it’s a possibility”.

“It’s a large country with commonalities with SA and India. It’s all just a matter of bandwidth for now but Brazil is certainly on our radar.”

At least for now, Zazoo’s independence and size could turn out to be its strength – since it is able to play with the giants in the mobile space without being seen as a threat. It already boasts clients and partners such as India’s Axis Bank, Spain’s Bankinter, Econet Wireless, Microsoft, MTN, Orange and MasterCard, among others.

For now the mobile payments market is overcrowded with numerous competitors, making it difficult for any player to differentiate themselves.

But Belamant argues: “Few have our expertise and experience in payments, security, mobile development, smart cards, SIMs, switching, banking regulations and the like. We are hoping that our experience in the industry as well as our current global footprint will continue to give us the advantage.”

With its global footprint spanning all the continents and innovative technologies, Zazoo stands a chance of fulfilling its mission of being a global player in the mobile payments space in the next five years, but it’s not going be smooth sailing

Voice Biometrics Set to Dominate Banking Industry

by Gugu Lourie

The days of answering questions (like for example, “What is your cellphone number?” to verify your identity before accessing a bank account may soon be gone forever. Well, that is if you are a client of Investec Private Bank, which plans to revolutionise South Africa’s banking industry by introducing a verification system that uses voice biometrics.

The bank will be the first financial institution in the southern hemisphere to launch such a solution.

The voice biometrics verification system will be launched on the 25 February 2015 in SA. It will, however, also service customers in the UK and Mauritius through the banks’ global client support centre (CSC).

Investec Private Bank has partnered with global firm Nuance to deploy FreeSpeech, which enables fully transparent and secure voice biometric authentication. It has also worked with OneVault to deploy the technology within six months.

In essence, a voice biometric system captures the unique characteristics of a client’s voice and creates an individual voiceprint. When a client contacts the organisation, the voice biometric technology will authenticate the client within seconds. It does this by comparing the client’s voice with the saved voiceprint and if there is an exact match the voice biometric technology grants access to the account.

However, if the voice print doesn’t match – in cases where there are disturbances from voice overlays or white noise – the telephone banker will still have the option of using traditional knowledge-based verification techniques to verify the identity of the caller.

The voice biometric industry is poised to experience phenomenal growth: in 2013 the global sector generated more than $165m in revenue, which is estimated to rise to $308m by end of 2015 and as much as $421m in 2016, according to a recent study by Opus Research.

Craig West, head of Investec’s global CSC, says: “Think of voice biometrics as a vocal fingerprint. The technology is becoming really mature, your voice is unique and no one can copy it.”

But Investec’s global rival Barclays, which has operations in South Africa, has already implemented voice biometric in the UK and could easily challenge them in the local market.

“The reality is that we are the first bank in South Africa to launch voice biometrics. We believe that voice biometrics is going to have a big future to play in banking,” says West.

With so many reports of fraud the question is will voice biometrics help banks restore consumer faith?

“Every single bank in the world worries about fraud and security. We clearly believe voice biometrics is an enhancement to security. We think it is going to add a lot of value in the banking industry, and to our clients in particular” says West.

He says voice biometrics as a technology solution is “a relationship enhancer” and “fits perfectly well with our strategy” as a private bank that is a client experience-led company.

Given that cybercriminals are also getting more sophisticated the challenge is to stay ahead of them – something West acknowledges. “That’s the eternal fight to make sure we are constantly combating criminals, but this is not unique to South Africa. What’s powerful about voice biometrics is you can’t steal my voice,” says West.

Investec has thrown the gauntlet to the big four banks – Absa, FNB, Nedbank, Standard Bank – and even Capitec Bank to find simpler and more secure verification methods such as voice and face biometrics.

This article is also published in Finweek magazine, South Africa’s financial weekly magazine

German expats in SA enjoy VOD on ProSiebenSat.1

ProSiebenSat.1, a German mass media company operating commercial television, premium pay channels, radio stations and related print businesses, has announced the launch of a video-on-demand mobile app and website that allows German expats based in South Africa and 15 other countries to view German produced shows around the clock. By Staff writer

Content on these platforms is available in high definition, is fast and easy to access and has Chromecast and AirPlay support for usage via TV.

The app can be found directly through the AppStore and the GooglePlay store. The first month for monthly subscriptions will be free followed by a fee of EURO 7.90 payable monthly, this subscription can be cancelled monthly.

With ProSiebenSat.1 Welt, German series, film, and sports fans get access to programming ranging from the humorous comedy series “Danni Lowinski” to thrilling crime formats like “Der letzte Bulle” and the Bundesliga Magazine amongst other shows.

“We want to make Germans who are living abroad yearn for home just a little more with the new ProSiebenSat.1 Welt. With new features like video-on-demand, the viewer now has absolute flexibility as to when and where they want to watch their favourite shows,” said Zeljko Karajica, Managing Director of ProSiebenSat.1 TV Germany.

‘Hack’ Jozi and stand to win R5m

Joburgers loves to complain. If it’s not about load shedding or traffic, it’s about the potholes or city billing issues. Well, here’s your chance to do something about the city’s problems. The #Hack.Jozi Challenge wants to pay you for your ideas that will turn Jozi into the city that we all want to live in.

Zolani Matebese, the head of broadband at the City of Johannesburg, said: “Your digital solution to a problem in Jozi could be the ticket to launching your start-up. With prizes valued at R5 million at stake, the #Hack.Jozi Challenge wants to find the most innovative digital ideas to enrich the lives of the people of Joburg.”

You don’t need to have technical experience, but this is an opportunity to formulate partnerships. #Hack.Jozi may assist you to find tech partners but it is important to have those skills to move forward to the next round, should your idea be selected. Application takes the form of a YouTube video and online application form. The deadline for entries is 6 March 2015.

The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is an initiative between the City of Johannesburg and the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University. Award winners will leverage IBM’s Bluemix, a cloud-based platform which is an open-standards platform for building, managing and running apps of all types such as web, mobile, big data and smart devices, provided as-a-service in the cloud.

Matebese added: “The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a boot camp for start-up entrepreneurs and our aim is to contribute towards fostering skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in the broad area of digital technology,”

Anyone can enter. Applicants can be individuals or teams, must live in the Johannesburg area and have a valid South African ID. Government employees are not eligible.

Samsung SA breaks GUINNESS World Record for most selfies

Samsung Electronics SA has successfully broken the GUINNESS World Record™ for the most contributions to an online album of selfies (self-portrait photographs) (selfies) in 24 hours. The record breaking number of selfies was an astounding 12,598, as verified by GUINNESS World Records.

The attempt took place at Sandton City in Johannesburg and Canal Walk in Cape Town, in partnership with 947 FM and KFM. The activations were perfectly paired with the South African launch of Samsung’s new GALAXY A-Series of smartphones, which comes packed with enhanced selfie features.

 

Justin Hume, Director of Product Marketing, Integrated Mobility at Samsung Electronics SA says, “We are delighted to receive confirmation that we were successful in our attempt. We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took a selfie and helped us to break the record, especially here on SA soil.”

 

Thousands of participants answered the call to have their selfies captured and be part of an opportunity to get into the records books. In addition to helping to break a World Record, the public also had the chance to get their hands on their own Samsung GALAXY A-Series smartphones, as the first ten people who arrived at venues in both cities received the new device.

 

“Samsung delivered a unique and exciting experience for consumers to be a part of a record breaking attempt. This was indeed a great honour and further cements our commitment to delivering innovative and inspiring consumer experiences,” says Hume.

 

ISPs calls for wholesale mobile data

The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has issued a further call for SA telcos to take bold action to bring down the costs of mobile broadband by introducing wholesale mobile data products.

ISPA argues that the absence of a wholesale mobile data offering constitutes a lost business opportunity for mobile operators and an obstacle to deepening broadband penetration.

“In South Africa, mobile devices are the primary gateway to the business and social opportunities offered by the Internet,” says ISPA chair Graham Beneke. “High prices for mobile broadband will continue to act as a brake on Internet penetration in the country.”

“One only has to look back several years ago when to the Blackberry uncapped mobile package was first launched. It was instantly popular amongst SA mobile users, many of whom used the package as the only way they accessed the web. There is clearly a demand for uncapped mobile data,” adds Beneke.

Axxess Mobile, for example, was amongst the first to offer an uncapped mobile data product to the market with such consumer-friendly innovations as three month roll-over and no out-of-bundle rates. AfriHost is another example of an ISP offering uncapped mobile data.

Research by World Wide Worx shows that mobile-data spend in South Africa grew by 50 percent between 2010 and 2012, and that more than half (52 percent) of all Internet access is via cellphones only. A subsequent study showed that while smartphones continued to be adopted, consumers were increasingly turning to Wi-Fi hotspots for connectivity—arguably in response to high data costs.

More to the point, the World Bank has long since established the correlation between broadband penetration and gross domestic product (GDP): every 10% increase in broadband penetration increases economic growth by 1.38%.

“This link between GDP growth and broadband penetration is one of the reasons the government set the target of 100 percent broadband coverage by 2020, and why ISPA supports that target,” Beneke says. “And if the majority of people are going to be accessing the Internet through mobile devices, then the cost of mobile broadband is critical in achieving that target—and starting to provide economic opportunity for our country.”

ISPA’s argument is strengthened by the way in which efforts to force the regulator to enable competition in the fixed-line broadband space have borne fruit, with strong competition between Internet service providers driving the price down, leading to better packages for consumers. As a result, uncapped ADSL or large, unshaped capped ADSL accounts have become the standard in the fixed-line broadband market.

“Opening up the ADSL market to competition has created business opportunities for providers and the consumer has benefited hugely,” Beneke says. “We believe that ICASA should take the necessary action to enable a simple resale model for mobile data to stimulate the same sort of consumer-friendly competition. It seems like regulatory pressure is necessary to spur the introduction of the necessary wholesale product to create this new market.”

When a genuine wholesale offering is made, such as MTN and Afrihost jointly developed, consumers receive immediate price benefits and service innovation associated with the ISP market.

Beneke urges consumers begin creating “pull” by demanding uncapped data offerings from service providers. “As voice and data converge on the Internet protocol platform, differentiated voice and data rates are becoming increasingly anomalous—we need to start moving towards one price for voice and data, and it has to begin with a genuine wholesale market in mobile data.”

Can Samsung usher in a new era for TV viewing in SA?

by Gugu Lourie

TURKEY, Antalya: A combination of increased demand for smart television sets and inadequate broadband bandwidth speed has opened up opportunities for content providers. As a result Samsung Electronics SA is developing a strategy around content to enable South Africans to enjoy the benefits of modern television.

This development is likely to usher in a new era for television in the country, where increasing numbers of viewers are ditching their old-fashioned cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets for slim, high-definition (HD) liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma display units.

The boom in sales of digital and HD TV sets, which are becoming more affordable, raises expectations of an acceleration of video-on-demand content on TV sets.

Samsung is partnering with South African content producers to deliver video-on-demand for the ordinary viewer. Not
surprisingly, various players in this industry are already positioning themselves to benefit from this development.

Samsung has partnered with eNCA to provide viewers with easy access to Africa’s latest news, and is working with SuperSport to offer sports highlights, live scores and player information across Africa.

From April, the global TV manufacturer will also provide customers with a one month’s free movie content from VIDI,
which gives Smart TV viewers in South Africa on-demand access to the latest Hollywood blockbusters and popular TV
series. Samsung will also team up with the streaming app Simfy to provide unlimited access to a world of music.

Furthermore, this year Samsung’s Smart TVs, including the premium SUHD line-up, will be powered by Tizen, an open-source platform that supports web standards for App TV development. Most importantly, it ensures that consumers will have access to a much broader range of Smart TV content and services.

Commenting on the development, Samsung Electronics SA’s deputy managing director Matthew Thackrah says: “It’s really about us positioning ourselves as a market leader from an innovation perspective. So, we know we have the technological prowess. We know we have the best-designed TV sets. We know we have the best-performing TV sets. It’s about how do we get the content onto them.”

Samsung wants its Smart TV sets to be more appealing to consumers by ensuring that they have high-quality content to allow viewers to enjoy the use of their equipment.

“We position ourselves to be a leader, when a consumer thinks of a smart TV they think of Samsung, and there is only
one way to do that and that’s through good content. And that’s really our drive,” explains Thackrah.

The intention is to make sure that the consumers are aware that they are “buying a TV with additional content availability”, says Thackrah.

As part of this strategy to ensure that Smart TV sets provide the best possible viewing experience to viewers, Samsung has also partnered with Vox Telecom. This partnership aims to make internet TV affordable.

Every Samsung Smart TV purchased via participating retailers comes with one terabyte of data from Vox Telecom, which
is valid for a year and “is unthrottled, unshaped, premium-grade ADSL”.

Netflix, the US-based global company that provides a subscription service for watching TV episodes and movies is
planning to come to SA in the next two years.

One wonders whether Samsung will seek a partnership with Netflix. “That would be our intention, but you never commit to something like that,” says Thackrah. “But our intention would be to partner with good content partners. We want to make sure that our content is always relevant and is in demand.”

One thing is certain – Smart TV is dictating a new era for television and Samsung is likely to face competition from
its rivals such as Sony and LG, which could also come up with their own content strategies for the South African market.

Lourie attended the Samsung Africa Forum Conference in Turkey as a guest of Samsung.
This article is also published in Finweek