Gadgets Mobile

What’s Your BB PIN?

blackberry babes“What’s your BB pin?”

The question is the ultimate social status badge for many young, urban Nigerians. Standing in front of a row of gleaming BlackBerry handsets in a Lagos phone shop, sales assistant Remi Olajuwon explained: “The average Nigerian has a very healthy interest in status and luxury. So if somebody asks for your BlackBerry pin and you don’t have one …” she trailed off with a dismissive flick of her false eyelashes.

Retailing at between $200 (£126) and $2,000 in a country where most live on less than $2 a day, the cost alone made it a status symbol, she added. “People come in to buy one just to show they’ve been promoted.”

Amid sagging sales in Europe and North America, developing markets offer a ray of hope for Research in Motion (RIM), after the maker of BlackBerry posted a $235m loss for the latest quarter. In Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, Africa’s three biggest economies, BlackBerrys outsold smartphone competitors this quarter. Kenya and Ghana also had buoyant sales, officials said.

Around one sixth of Africa’s 620 million active phone subscribers come from Nigeria. Half of Nigeria’s 4 million smartphone owners use BlackBerrys, and use among the wealthiest segment of society is forecast to increase sixfold by 2016.

“There’s a misconception Africans only want cheap phones [but] Nigeria is a key market for us. We’re seen as an aspirational product,” said RIM regional director Waldi Wepenerlast month, after the company opened its first Nigerian store in Lagos’s computer village, a sprawling haven for tech junkies.

With its image increasingly outdated elsewhere, RIM hopes to capitalise on Nigeria’s twin obsessions with status and communication. BlackBerry-related dramas flood newspapers’ agony aunt pages. On social websites, debate rages as to whether a bride photographed using her phone during her wedding ceremony was reading an e-Bible, or was merely a BlackBerry addict. The Nollywood film industry, whose clunkily named movie titles are a good cultural barometer and include delights such as the “Fazebook Babes” series, has recently spawned the hit multisequel “BlackBerry Babes”. The comedy follows a group of scantily clad university girls obsessed with getting the latest phones.

The popularity of BlackBerrys in Nigeria is partly born of necessity. Erratic internet services and a nonexistent landline network are plugged by unlimited data bundles, costing about £12 a month. Unpredictable phone networks force those who can afford it to own two handsets.

“I already have another smartphone, but I need a BlackBerry pin number to socialise with friends and get babes. BlackBerry has an edge because of the pinging,” George Emeka, a university student said, using the colloquial term for its instant messaging service.

Others are getting more bang for their buck. Yahya Balogun, who lives in a Lagos slum, used eight months of savings to buy a secondhand model. The taxi driver has caught on to the growing number of high-end businesses who advertise and communicate using BlackBerry pin numbers as well as traditional means. “All my clients in [upmarket district] Victoria Island own BlackBerrys. It is a good investment,” Balogun said.

In his rundown district where extended families squeeze into single rooms, neighbours frequently browse on his phone. “My daughter can use the internet [for schoolwork],” said neighbour Tosin Alabi, his face lit by the screen’s blue glow during a recent powercut. “Personally myself I can never pay 1,000 naira [£4] every week for internet. And the battery is terrible when I can go for two days without charging my own phone,” he added, indicating a battered Nokia feature phone.

Nokia’s low-cost phones remain the top overall sellers across Africa, though affordable mid-range mobiles could also erode RIM’s top-end dominance, analysts say. Last year, Chinese manufacturer Huawei gobbled up almost half of Kenya’s smartphone market with the launch of its $100 devices powered by Google’s Android software. RIM has felt the heat in South Africa, where, unlike Nigeria, mobile carriers offer packages with Apple iPhones. “You’re only with it if you have an iPhone, preferably the iPhone 5, or Samsung Galaxy SIII,” said Khayakazi Mgojo, based in Pretoria.

A three-day loss of service across Africa and parts of Europe last year was the final straw for some. “I switched because BlackBerry was frustrating me with all its constant freezing at the most inconvenient times, short battery life and the daily reboots,” Mgojo said. Nevertheless she added: “I still use it for social network because it’s cheap compared to buying data bundles.”

RIM hopes to bat away growing competition in its most important African markets by releasing its jazzed up BlackBerry 10 software in South Africa and Nigeria at the same time as other global markets next year. “At a time when Nokia is strengthening its distribution arm in Nigeria and Apple has recently appointed its first official distributor … the opening of the first BlackBerry-branded retail store is a logical step [to remain] the country’s No 1 smartphone vendor,” said Nick Jotischky, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media.

And for the consumer there still seems a popular groundswell for RIM’s best known product. Manzo George, a businessman who owns three BlackBerrys, said he had no plans to switch over to an Android phone anytime soon. “When people ask me why not try a new brand smartphone, I tell them there are smartphones and then there are BlackBerrys.”


The once mighty BlackBerry is no longer a status symbol in western markets, but RIM hopes for a revival on 30 January with the release of its new operating system, BlackBerry 10.

Caught in the crossfire between Apple and Android, RIM has lost market share. Its devices excel at email and instant messaging, making them popular with younger users who cannot afford big phone bills, but the company has been left behind because of its failure to create a smartphone that can efficiently navigate the wider web.

RIM’s worldwide market share stood at nearly 20% in 2009, says research firm Gartner, but has now fallen to 5%. While smartphone sales are booming, RIM’s shipment volumes have fallen 57% in a year, according to IDC resaerch. In June the firm reported its first operating loss since 2004, and set out plans to shrink its headcount by a third, shedding 5,000 jobs.


Gadgets Mobile

Google To Converge Android OS And Chrome OS By 2013?

The China Commercial Times reports that Google has placed hardware orders with Taiwanese manufacturers Compal Electronics and Wintek to produce a Chromebook with a 12.85-inch touch display. Could this be the start of Google merging Android and Chrome OS?

Chromebooks are lightweight laptop and desktop devices that use the Chrome Web browser for their primary interface, with Linux on the back end. There’s really no reason why they couldn’t use Android to support the Chrome interface. Indeed, Chrome is now the default Web browser for Android 4.x and higher.

While Chromebooks don’t get as many headlines as Microsoft Surface and Apple iPads, the devices are quite popular. For example, Samsung’s ARM-powered Chromebook  is Amazon’s top-selling laptop computer, as of November 27th. At the same time, Android now owns 72% of the entire mobile devices market–not just smartphones.

What would you get if you put these Android and Chrome OS together in a touch-enabled laptop? You might well get Windows’ true desktop successor.

Think about it. Chromebook and Android smartphones and tablets are taking off. Microsoft’s Surface marriage of the tablet and desktop is on the rocks. Pure PC sales, of course, continue to decline.

Microsoft’s reaction to its falling market share–and certainly its faltering market dominance–has been to try to follow Apple’s path in creating a closed hardware/software ecosystem with Windows 8 and RT. Apple, with its charisma and dedicated fan base (and I do mean that in a nice way), has managed to get away with it. Microsoft, not so much. Google is offering a much more open path for both developers and users, on both Android and Chrome, that’s clearly gaining in popularity. Wouldn’t a combination Chrome/Android Linux desktop prove a winner?

This isn’t a difficult hurdle. Android, with version 4.2, supports multiple users. Previously, this was always a weak point for business desktops. The actual merger of Android and Chrome wouldn’t technically be difficult to do. Both are Linux-based system that use Webkit for Web browsing.

Leaving aside the technical aspects, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said as far back as November 2009 that, “Android and Chrome will likely converge over time.” That time may well be sometime in 2013.

Source : ZDNET



A Murder Is Announced, but No Corpse Can Be Found

Well, it looks like the “Death of Desktop Linux” story is back for another round.

Yes, after countless debates and discussions of the topic ad nauseum over the years — the most recent being just a few short months ago, in fact — it recently reared its ugly head again, like a zombie that just won’t quit.

The claimant this time? None other than Miguel de Icaza, of GNOME and Mono fame.

The claim? Essentially, that Apple killed the Linux desktop.

Only problem is, FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software) fans can’t seem to find any evidence that the crime ever happened.

‘Then OS X Is on Life Support’

“Another one of these? Please,” exclaimed Google+ blogger Linux Rants. “Now Apple killed the Linux desktop? No. I’m afraid not.”

In fact, “the Mac OS in one form or another has been around since 1984, and in that time has managed to gain 6 to 7 percent market share,” Linux Rants pointed out. “Linux has been around since 1991, and has managed to gain at least 1 to 2 percent market share. Probably more. Possibly much more, depending on who you ask.

“If desktop Linux is dead — which I feel wholeheartedly that it is not — then OSX is on Life Support and it’s not looking good,” he asserted.

The reality is that “this is a very exciting time for desktop Linux, with Windows 8 threatening to popularize it like we’ve never seen before, and gaming companies committing to supporting it unprecedented numbers,” Linux Rants noted.

So “no, desktop Linux is not dead,” he concluded. “It’s had some difficulty gaining traction because it was a decade late to the Operating System market. Despite that, once it gets going it will be impossible to stop.”

‘It Seems to Be Working for Me’

Indeed, “if the Linux desktop is dead, why am I using it now?” asked Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien. “It seems to be working for me as well as anything.”

The real question, O’Brien suggested, “is what you want to accomplish. If it is total domination, with Linux having 100 percent of the desktop market, not only will that not happen, I wouldn’t want it to happen.

“Monoculture never works well,” he added. “So, I think de Icaza identifies some problems with development in Linux, but there’s problems in everything.”
‘Killed? No Way.’

Blogger Robert Pogson took a similar view.

“Apple killed nothing,” Pogson said

Rather, “Apple’s fanbois just wish they had 1K+ retail stores pushing product in China and India like Canonical has Dell doing,” he explained. “They wish they were shipping more than 20 million PCs — GNU/Linux will ship on that many PCs with Ubuntu next year. That leaves hundreds of other distros being installed by individuals and organizations on a global scale.

“Walmart Brazil barely sells any Apple products,” Pogson added. “GNU/Linux and that other OS top them in popularity.”

In short, “killed? No way,” he concluded.

‘We Have an Opportunity’

“I don’t think Apple killed anything,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack agreed. “‘Killed’ implies a permanent state, and I don’t think it’s actually permanent — I’m seeing more interest from my non-techie friends, and announcements such as the porting of Steam to Linux give me hope for the future.”

De Icaza “is correct that the constant breakage caused by people completely rearranging interfaces and breaking apps on a constant basis set the Linux desktop back by years,” Mack conceded. However, “he is completely out of line for blaming Linus for it.”

Looking ahead, meanwhile, “the sad thing is that we have an opportunity to take market share, since Microsoft seems to be going out of their way to get rid of their entire userbase with Windows 8, but I don’t think we will have a non Gnome 3/Unity distro ready in time to take advantage,” he concluded.

‘It’s the Devs’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet took an even stronger view.

“It’s the devs,” hairyfeet charged. “The devs can’t stand bug fixing and instead would rather write something ‘New!’ even if it breaks compatibility, makes third party support impossible, and makes Linux drivers practically impossible to keep 100 percent functional past a single update.”

Meanwhile, “you have Apple giving you 5 years of support, making sure their ABI doesn’t break software so companies like AutoCAD and Photoshop can actually support them, in short they make it NICE for the user, what a concept!” he asserted. “And you still have the BSD underpinnings, so the old-school Unix heads can have their CLI and have a functional system too!”

‘Dead on Arrival’

In fact, “the desktop distribution Linux community really has no concern as to whether it gets widespread adoption,” opined Robin Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor.

“In the past few months, maybe out of frustration, I have gone the same route,” Lim explained. “I love my Linux distro, I use it, I benefit from it, but I do not bother to promote it with anyone anymore. This was some time after I got into a ‘discussion’ in a Linux forum about the issue of the need for change for widespread adoption — the overwhelming response was, ‘who cares?'”

So, “how can it win, when it is not even trying to fight?” Lim concluded. “Excellent article by Mr. Miguel de Icaza. But he is wrong about his conclusion: Mac OS did not kill Linux; Linux on the desktop was dead on arrival. His own article explains why.”
‘They Just Want Their Problems Solved’

Linux on the desktop has had “a number of important successes, but these are still very much niche cases,” noted Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project.

Breaking into the mainstream, however, “has not happened and it isn’t about to happen,” Travers opined. “Linux makes a great desktop tailored at each and every user, but nobody has really figured out how to make users see why they should consider a switch.”

De Icaza’s article focuses primarily on technical problems with the attempts thus far to bring Linux to the desktop, but “in the end this doesn’t matter if you can’t convince users to switch, and you can’t do this by merely building a great desktop environment,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how great your desktop is, you have to find some way to sell the move to users, because moving operating systems is always a certain amount of trouble.

“If you don’t market it,” in other words, “you won’t sell it,” he added.

“People don’t care what is technically best,” Travers concluded. “They just want their problems solved.”


Controversies Gadgets Lifestyle Religion

The End Of The Bible As We Know It?

Every technological transition comes with advantages and disadvantages, as the new replaces the old. The same thing is present as ebooks continue to gain market share from hardcopy books. However, one very prominent book that has been the subject of a lot of  discourse is the Christian religious book, The Bible.

bibleSince the mobile phone crept into our lives, gradually taking control of almost every facet of our being, it has become an addiction that most people can not do without for any significant period of time. It is against this background that digital bible advocates probably believe that the only way to make the Bible still relevant in our fast paced, technological world is to incorporate it in our new found addiction – mobile. Over time, the term mobile device have come to include ereaders and tablets, with both form factors now having an overwhelming array of Bibles available for them too.

The question however remains, can the eBible effectively replace the print Bible in every regard? Many would also ask, can an exorcist cast out demons with a digital Bible like they do with the print version?

The fact that most people still feel uncomfortable using their mobile devices to read their Bibles in church probably speaks volumes as regards the way it is still being viewed, especially in Nigeria. This was the subject of my write up almost two years ago which I aptly titled “Ebook Readers – Technology meets Religion” wherein I discussed the trend.

I asked my non-techie wife about her view on the ebible in the church. Her response, “Well, as long as you are reading your Bible on it and not checking your emails or something“. That probably throws a little light on why people view Bible on mobiles in church with suspicion, especially with the advent of the Blackberry.

However, I do remain convinced that the leather-bound Bible on every household bookshelf — like records and videocassettes and newspapers — may soon be endangered, if not extinct. The overwhelming advantages that the ebook, in general, has over the printed book will ensure that the eBible stays very relevant for a long time.

Here are a few:

  • Ebook readers will allow readers to take thousands of ebooks everywhere they go.
  • Thousands of ebooks take up no more space than the reader than stores them.
  • Ebooks typically cost less than paper books.
  • Readers can easily switch from one ebook to another with very little effort.
  • Obtaining additional ebooks requires only a few keystrokes.
  • A new ebook is available immediately for reading.
  • Ebooks consume fewer natural resources such as trees, water and petroleum for shipping.
  • Ebooks have a lower cost of production
Gadgets Mobile

The Future Of Apple Without Steve Jobs

The Passing away of former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, on October 5, 2011 came as a shock to many. He passed away too young and undoubtedly with plenty of innovative ideas. Like they say, “The Good Die Young”. Jobs’ imprint and influence on Apple will remain for years. However, his management team can no longer count on his presence, opinion and impeccable taste.

How will that affect Apple?

The near term is not a concern. Apple will remain one of the most valued companies in the world thanks to strong sales of Macs, iPhones and iPads. The company appears to have incredible momentum over the next few product cycles, thanks largely to Jobs’ technological vision and marketing brilliance.

Then what?

The technology sector is arguably the most competitive industry in the world. Steve Jobs’ genius was creating products no one even knew they wanted before Apple built them. He did not invent the personal computer, the digital music player, smartphones and or tablets; but his creations so fundamentally changed the market, he might as well have. No one knows better than Apple how one product enhancement or advancement can change consumer demand in inconceivable ways.

Can Apple continue to innovate without Jobs?

The iPhone enjoys 27% market share in the smartphone category, according to the latest comscore stats. That’s second only to Google’s Android with 44% market share. Rest assured, Google is looking to increase their piece of the pie with the acquisition of Motorola Mobility. And while the iPhone 4S will likely fly off the shelves, it did disappoint some hoping to see an iPhone 5.

In the tablet category, the iPad dominates. It controls 73% of the market and expects to have at least 50% share through 2014, says industry research firm Gartner. The competition has so far been weak but Amazon’s new Kindle Fire may change that. Even if it’s not a game changer, competitors will continue to try.

This is not to say Apple will fail without Steve Jobs. They are still in good hands. Apple certainly has talented engineers, product managers and executives. CEO Tim Cook has been steering the ship for the last several years as Jobs battled his health issues. The company has excelled during this time. Another integral piece of the puzzle, Jonathan Ive remains. Ive is the lead designer behind just about every great product Apple developed in the last decade and half.

In the end, the only thing we know is: things will be different. And, as Steve Jobs proved, different has the potential to be much better.

This is the end of Apple. The excudroids that take over will mindlessly ape the behavior and statements of Jobs while lacking any of his vision or drive. They will coast on his reputation a la Hewlett Packard until they drive the company into the ground again, a la HP. Jobs was Apple just as Tito was Yugoslavia. Does anyone think Cuba won’t change once Fidel checks out? The followers of any great person can only have shallow understand of the leaders vision.


The top 20 strongholds for desktop Linux

As a server OS, Linux has long been highly successful and a poster child for open source. For example, Linux currently powers a majority of the world’s web servers and supercomputers. As a desktop OS, however, Linux has yet to gain mainstream acceptance.

That said, there are some countries where people have embraced Linux on the desktop to a greater degree than most.

Since you probably wouldn’t be able to guess which these countries are no matter how hard you tried, we have highlighted them in this article. Read on to find out where desktop Linux is most popular, plus some nice bonus stats.

Top 20 countries by Linux market share

We looked at desktop OS market share, in this case defined as the share of computers used to access the Web. It’s basically the only metric out there that can give us an estimate of actual market share of actively used computers. The numbers are based on aggregated visitor stats for more than three million websites, courtesy of Statcounter.

110512 top 20 linux countries

This chart reflects the relative popularity of Linux as a desktop OS in each country. It doesn’t mean that these countries have the most Linux users overall (which is more difficult to estimate correctly).

A few general observations

As we collected the data for this article, we couldn’t help but make a few additional observations that you might find interesting.

  • Linux is most definitely a niche OS on the desktop: In most countries, Linux has less than 1% market share.
  • The Linux vs. Windows situation: In no country is Linux anywhere near replacing Windows on the desktop, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
  • The absence of the US and UK: The United States is far outside the top 20, with a 0.73% desktop OS market share for Linux. This by the way happens to be the exact same market share as Linux has in the United Kingdom.
  • The top countries in Europe are, in order: Macedonia, Finland, Spain, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Estonia and Germany.

Sweden, where we are based, sadly didn’t make this list. We just managed a measly 1.09% desktop OS market share for Linux, but at least that’s above average.

If you are wondering what Linux’s desktop OS market share is in the various world regions, here are the numbers:

  • Worldwide, 0.76%
  • Europe, 1.14%
  • South America, 0.88%
  • North America, 0.72%
  • Oceania, 0.72%
  • Africa, 0.45%
  • Asia, 0.34%

In other words, Europe comes out as the overall most Linux-friendly world region.

Why these “low” numbers are not bad at all

Linux may currently be a niche desktop OS, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. It’s often described as the “tinkerer’s OS,” and it’s hard to see how it could go mainstream and retain that quality. If you keep that in mind, it’s quite possible that Linux will never go mainstream on the desktop, but will continue to flourish in a similar way it is now, with a relatively small but very dedicated community of users.

And when we say “relatively small” we really mean relatively. The worldwide Linux desktop OS market share (0.76%) coupled with the number of Internet users (1.97 billion) indicates that there are at least 15 million active desktop Linux users out there.

We say “at least,” because that number is probably significantly higher since there is a lot of overlap in these stats with people who use more than one OS and more than one computer.

That’s not a small community by anyone’s standards (except maybe Facebook’s ;) ).

Notes about the data: The numbers are for the three-month period of February through April 2011 and are taken from StatCounter Global Stats. StatCounter bases those numbers on aggregated visitor stats for more than three million websites. To avoid statistical anomalies caused by small samples, we didn’t include any countries with fewer than 250,000 Internet users.




Xoom! Xoom!! Xoom!!!

BestBuy caused quite a stir on Sunday 13 February, 2011 when it listed the Motorola Xoom for pre-order at a staggering price of US$1,200 (NGN192,000), a far cry from the expected $800 (NGN128,000) price tag. While we assume this was a slip as it has been yanked off the site, even the initial rumoured listing price of $800 for the Xoom is considered high, nothwithstanding the fact that its features are far superior to any tablet in the market. Most still think the device will a hardsell because the Apple ipad, which is the dominant force in the tablet market with an astounding market share of 87%, retails for as low as US $500 (NGN90,000).

The Xoom been slated for release on February 24, 2011.

Of course, these devices are never targeted at the African market where purchasing power is quite low. However, for the few die-hard geeks and lovers of gadgets, the rather high pricing of these devices may call for deep thinking and a search for good alternatives.One really can’t help but think of Eyebeekay’s write-up and wonder if the tablet is really worth the investment.I have held out on buying one just because of this.

Basically, what do i need a tablet for, apart from being branded as “very cool”?

– Good Ereader (Most Importantly).

Aside from backlight and eye strain issues, reading on tablets usually result in less satisfying experience and the prints are less legible than E-ink screens found on Ereaders.

– Efficiency as a mobile office viz a viz price tag

I have heard users of the ipad complain about the “little inconvenience” of not having a hardware keyboard, resulting in less efficiency. The same feeling you get from using a touch screen phone without a QWERTY keyboard.

– How soon before the next big thing?

It’s sad that even the 1 year old ipad is being referred to in some quarters as near obsolete.

I am thinking less of convergence, keeping the reader separate from the GSM device. I try to read regularly and this has informed my decision for a 10.1″ reading device. Except a new entrant comes in or there is an update very soon, the Kindle DX is probably my best choice for the near extinct device called the Ereader, good screen estate to view  my loads of pdf files.  One would have thought the price would have dropped by now from $379. And i might just grab a 4 inch Android phone while i am at it, to replace my ageing 3 month old HTC TyTN II!