ICT Kenya: 2014 year in review

Online shopping grew

Competition in online shopping grew with entrants in the nascent sector curving different niche to remain competitive.
Among the notable niche include dealers of used goods, brand new items, music.
An online data based was developed by Private security firm, KK security and online classifieds company, OLX, to tame spiraling cyber crime in the country.
The system aims to capture details of online buyers including national Identity cards (ID’s) and verified to secure e-commerce transactions.

Digital Migration

Kenya finally migrates from analogue to digital television broadcasting before the June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The move comes after, protracted court battles push for cheaper set top boxes and awareness creation that has lasted seven years since the move was mooted.
Cost of set top boxes have dropped significantly over the years from Sh 10,000 to Sh 1,799 for pay tv platforms and Sh 4,000 for Free-to air.

4G Network

Safaricom finally rolled out its high-speed 4G network to up game on the data segment-targeting to comprehensively reach out Nairobi and Mombasa By March 2015.
Chinese Mobile handset makers Huawei and Techno launched their 4G powered smartphones in the Kenyan market.

Essar’s Yu sold out to rivals

Indian mobile operator Essar agreed to sell Kenyan number three yuMobile to local rivals Airtel and Safaricom for Sh 10.5 billion ($120 million).

Microsoft dropped Nokia brand for Lumia

The landmark decision was made after tech giant bought Nokia’s mobile division back in April for $7.2bn along with a 10-year deal to use the Finnish company’s name on smartphones.

Smartphone users grew

Mobile phone subscriptions stood at 32.2 million, a figure that grew by almost 450,000 compared to the first quarter of the year buoyed by growth in middle class.
Industry reports claim penetration rate of smart phones in the country stands at 18 percent with over 15,000 devices sold each month.
Global smartphone shipments hit a new record of 295.3 million units in the second quarter of 2014, posting a 23.1 percent growth year over year and was expected to reach 300 million before year end.

Samsung/ Apple Battle for top spot intensified

Apple’s Iphone 6 plus launch laid it bare that the American multinational was planning to end a monopoly held by Samsung through its Galaxy series over the last three years.

Phablets cannibalized tablets

Latest IDC prediction: Phablet shipments (smartphones with screen sizes from 5.5 to less than 7 inches) will reach 175 million units worldwide in 2014, passing the 170 million portable PCs expected to ship during the same period

Adoption of credit cards soared

The country experienced signing of mega deals for credit cards between multinationals, local retailers and commercial banks in the plastic card market.
Kenya has less than 200,000 credit cards with industry reports putting the market’s potential at 400,000 units.
Mobile money transactions
Over the last12 months most retailers’ big and small alike also adopted mobile money services to push up total transaction value to Sh 1.1 trillion from Sh 871 million last year.

Thin sim technology
Equity Bank was given go ahead to launch Thin sim technology in Kenya to rival Safaricom’s M-pesa.

7 biggest tech fails of 2014

1) Matatu Cashless Payment System: Of-course this had to make the round-up. Kenyan authorities tried to ensure that we have a cashless payment system, the deadline of which was postponed several times. Maybe next year the Kenyan government & stakeholders will have better luck.

2) Facebook Paper: Facebook Paper was a flop. Though it was suppose to reinvent Facebook as a new-age reading app, it quickly tumbled down the leaderboard at the Apple App Store. But whatever the fate of Paper, the tools used to build the thing represent the future of software design and development.

3) Bitcoin: It’s fair to say Bitcoin had a bad 2014. In fact, its plunge in value makes it the worst performing currency over the past year. According to Bloomberg, the value of Bitcoin dropped a massive 56 percent during 2014, falling from around $770 at the start of the year to around $320 at the time of writing.This means Bitcoin has performed worse than the Ukrainian Hryvnia, the Russian Ruble, the Ghanaian Cedi, and the Argentine Peso. Which is all a far cry from 2013, when Bitcoin peaked at a value of $1,130. Ironically, this drop in value has coincided with Bitcoin being accepted by an increasing number of companies and services.

4) Tablet sales: despite a growth of 7.2 % in tablet sales in 2014, this was a failure as the tablet market grew by 52.5 percent from 2012 to 2013. Reasons for the disastrous plummet being phablets (big screen mobile phones) which can do almost anything tablets can do.

5) Sony Playstation TV: The game experience was poor, just like the PS Vita graphics were blurry and crappy on a big-screen TV. The PlayStation TV didn’t even support 1080p resolution, which doesn’t sound very future-proof. Even at a wallet-friendly $99, the Sony Playstation TV was an epic fail.

6) Google Glass: 2014 was supposed to be the year that Google Glass went mass market, but last time I checked I didn’t see anyone wearing one anywhere. Google has apparently delayed the launch of Glass to consumers and has shifted gears in the meantime to focus on businesses with its Glass at Work program. The move makes sense. You’re less likely to be called a Glasshole if you’re using it to call up schematics of a building than wearing the geeky specs to the mall.

It’s possible that Glass could see a resurgence in 2015, but given that key employees and several developers have abandoned ship, it will be hard to keep Sergey Brin’s dream alive.

7) iPhone 6 Plus Bendgate: Almost immediately after Apple began selling its massive iPhone 6 Plus in September, the Internet went crazy with images of bent phones. Internet personality Lewis Hilsenteger made “bendgate” a sensation by posting a YouTube video of himself bending the iPhone 6 Plus. Soon after, two British teenagers filmed themselves bending an iPhone 6 Plus in a London Apple Store. But Apple insisted that the phone doesn’t bend easily, saying that only 9 customers had complained about bending phones during the first week of sales.

The year 2014 in tech

January
Marissa Mayer became Yahoo CEO.

February
WWE Network was launched.
Facebook bought whatsapp for $19 billion.

March
Yu was bought-out by Safaricom and Airtel.

April
Safaricom discontinued the unlimited internet bundle citing overuse of the service by a few users who would stretch the service to the limit, leaving the rest of the users to share a limited service.
The Heartbleed bug affected the security of thousands of websites, leaving them vulnerable to data leaks and scaring the crap out of Internet security experts.
Microsoft bought Nokia.

May
Former Prime Minister – Raila Odinga was away in Boston for 3 months. A lot happened while he was away and Kenyans on Twitter did what they do best, they got the hashtag #BabaWhileYouWereAway trending.
eBay got hacked.
Safaricom announced the discontinuing of the 1000 Kshs postpaid plan.

June
Nokia launched their first Android smartphone – the X2.

August
This Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, inspiring tech executives and celebrities to dump icy-cold water over their heads to raise money and bring awareness to the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Sadly, some of the challenges went a little too far, ending in at least one tragic death.

October
Airtel Kenya offered prepaid mobile users the ability to access social media network, Twitter – for free.
Nakumatt launched the Nakumatt Global Mastercard.
We got a sneak-preview of Microsoft’s Windows 10.
iPhone 6 plus went on sale.
Equity Bank’s Equitel service was launched.

November
#StopTheDrunkPresident was one of the top trends on Twitter.

December
Sony got hacked, but still released the movie, The Interview.
Twitter went down for about 5 hours on Sunday 28th December. Tweetdeck users were hit with a different issue whereby all tweets were dated one year into the future.

Top 5 hashtags of 2014

Kenyans are always on Twitter, and in 2014, they made their voice heard on Twitter with the following top trending hashtags:

#BabaWhileYouWereAway
#StopTheDrunkPresident
#MyDressMyChoice
#DeadBeatKenya
#OccupyHarambeeAve

Which was your favourite? Leave a comment.

Career choices you will regret in 20 years

Every day we are faced with choices in our careers that will affect us over the long term. Should I volunteer for that new project? Should I ask for a raise? Should I take a sabbatical? Should I say yes to overtime?

But sometimes we miss the biggest choices that will cause us to look back on our careers 20 years from now with pride and contentment — or regret.

Here are some of the career choices we often make but will regret deeply in 20 years’ time:

Pretending to be something you’re not.

Maybe you’re pretending to be a sports fan to impress your boss, or you’re keeping your mouth shut about something to keep the peace. Maybe you’re pretending that you’re an expert in something that’s really not your cup of tea. But continuously pretending to be something you’re not is not being true to yourself and will keep you feeling empty.

Making decisions based only on money.

Whether we’re talking about your personal salary or your project’s budget, making decisions solely based on money is almost never a good idea. Sure, it’s important to run the numbers, but there are dozens of other factors — including your gut feeling — you’ll want to take into account.

Thinking you can change something about the job.

Much like a relationship, if you go into a job thinking, “This would be the perfect job, if only…” that’s a red flag. Chances are, unless you’re taking a leadership, C-level position, you aren’t going to be able to change things that are fundamentally wrong.

Settling.

You’ve got an OK job, with an OK salary, and OK benefits, but what you really want is… You’re not doing yourself any favors settling for something that is just OK. Believe in yourself enough to go after what you deserve, whether it’s a new position, a pay rise, or an opportunity.

Working 50, 60, 80 hour weeks.

You might think you have to work that much — because it’s expected, because you need the money, because you want to look good to your boss — but no one reaches their deathbed and says, “Gosh, I wish I’d spent more time working.”

Putting friends and family last.

Being successful at your career means surrounding yourself with supportive people — and often, those people aren’t your coworkers or employees, they’re your friends and family. Ruin those relationships and you may find your career success just doesn’t matter as much.

Micromanaging everything.

This applies to your team and employees, but also to life in general. If you micromanage everything instead of sometimes just letting life happen, you’ll find yourself constantly battling anxiety and overwhelm.

Avoid making mistakes.

If you’re actively avoiding making mistakes in your career, then you’re not taking risks. And while you may keep up the status quo, you won’t be rewarded, either. Take the risk. Make the mistake. Own it and learn from it.

Thinking only of yourself.

The best networking strategy you can possibly have is to actively look for opportunities to help others. If you’re always putting yourself and your needs first, you’ll find you don’t get very far.

Not valuing your own happiness.

It’s a sad truth that people often believe they can put off happiness until later, but sometimes later doesn’t come. Prioritize being happy today. That might mean switching jobs, or it might just mean choosing to be happier with the job you’ve got.

What do you think are the biggest career choices people regret? As always, I’d love to hear your ideas and stories in the comments below.

By Bernard Marr