Runbo®Original Blog

Vodacom puts price on smart devices

Vodacom has announced pricing on a wide range of new smartphones and tablets, ranging from the entry-level Kicka phone to the high-end Samsung Galaxy TabS.
 
Vodacom today released the following contract deals and recommend retail prices on the latest range of smartphones and tablets it is offering on its network in South Africa:
 
Smartphones
 
Vodacom Smart Kicka
Exclusively available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom uChoose Flexi 50 for R49 per month and has a recommended retail price of R549
 
Vodafone Smart 4 Power
Exclusively available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 12 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom uChoose Flexi 100 for R189 per month and has a recommended retail price of R2 799
 
LG G3
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom uChoose Flexi 200 for R449 per month and has a recommended retail price of R9 979
 
Additional deals
Vodacom World
The first 50 customers to purchase a new contract or upgrade to the LG G3 at Vodacom World  will receive the LG G Watch as well as Connell Cruise’s autographed CD
Every customer to purchase a new contract or upgrade to the LG G3 at Vodacom World from will receive Connell Cruise’s autographed CD
Online
The first 50 online customers approved for a LG G3 contract will receive the LG G Watch
 
HTC One M8 mini
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 12 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom smart S plan at R399 per month and has a recommended selling price of R7 699
 
Nokia Lumia 930
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from mid-August
The device will be available on the Vodacom Smart S plan at R449 per month and has the recommended selling price of R9 119
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August. The gold device will be exclusive to Vodacom customers for the next three months.  
The device will be available on the Vodacom Smart S plan at R399 per month and has the recommended selling price of R7 479
 
Huawei Ascend G630
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom uChoose Flexi 100 at R189 per month and has the recommended selling price of R2 999
 
Huawei Y600
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 11 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom uChoose Flexi 200 at R199 per month and has the recommended selling price of R1 999
 
Tablets
 
Sony Xperia T3
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from late August
The device will be available on the Vodacom Smart S plan at R379 per month and has a recommended selling price of R6 419
 
Samsung Galaxy TabS 8.4
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom My Standard Gig 1 at R399 per month and has a recommended selling price of R8 839
 
Samsung Galaxy TabS 10.5
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom My Standard Gig 1 at R449 per month and has a recommended selling price of R10 259
 
HP Slate 10 Tablet
The device will be available to Vodacom customers in store and online from 7 August
The device will be available on the Vodacom My Standard Gig 1 at R269 per month and has a recommended selling price of R5 699
 
Coming soon: Samsung Galaxy Alpha
 
* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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SA's Cloudgate redefines computers

Tablets are great devices for reading content, but they often fall short when used for inputting content. A new Android computer - CloudGate - is designed to bridge this gap as it uses a keyboard, mouse and external screen and costs less than many PCs.

CloudGate, the new computer from Cloudware Technologies (a MICROmega company), combines the simplicity of the Android operating system with the creative tools of the traditional desktop to create what Cloudware’s MD Brian Timperley calls “a powerful new hybrid device that invites people to create, not just consume”.

“Tablets and smartphones are fantastic ‘read’ devices, but they’re less capable as ‘write’ tools,” says Timperley. “They’re primarily about consuming stuff that other people have created, whether it’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, an e-mail or a magazine article. But if you want to create anything more significant than an Instagram photo or a Facebook post, the touchscreen interface can be a limitation.”

CloudGate uses the same Android operating system as smartphones and tablets, but with an external screen, mouse and keyboard. “That makes it far more than an entertainment tool,” says Timperley. “A CloudGate can do anything the typical home computer can do, whether it’s working from home, enjoying games and entertainment, or completing school projects -- and it can do it all at a price that makes it affordable to far more people than traditional desktop computers.”

 

“We’ve learned from our early users that most people find the touchscreen interface tricky to use for editing a spreadsheet or writing anything that’s longer than a couple of sentences,” adds Timperley. “They love being able to use a mouse and keyboard with an Android interface.”

Users also love being able to use bigger screens, says Timperley. “We put up with the small screen on tablets and phones because that’s the price we pay for portability. But adding a big-screen experience to the low price and ease of use that comes with Android is proving to be a hit with our users.”

As well as being easy to use, says Timperley, CloudGate is also more secure than desktop computers as we know them. “The age of keeping everything on your own hard drive is over,” he says. “Nowadays we keep our email on the web using Gmail or Yahoo and our documents in Dropbox or Google Drive, so hard drive failures aren’t an issue. Nor are viruses: In the unlikely event that your machine is infected with a virus, just reset it to factory settings. The virus is wiped out, and your data is still safely stored in the cloud.”

At just R2000, Timperley says CloudGate is affordable for many families who wouldn’t otherwise consider buying a computer. “We believe the educational benefits alone are potentially huge,” he says; “there are thousands of educational apps in the Google Play store, and many of them are free.”

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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The digital divide is vanishing...

The digital divide is vanishing as the masses embrace smartphones. In its place, we have the data divide, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

It should be obvious by now that the days of the basic cellphone are waning, as smartphones begin to invade the mass market. By the end of 2015, it is likely that half of all South African adults will be using a smartphone. By 2020, all phones will probably be smartphones.

This means that the digital divide, in terms of having the physical means of access to the Internet, will have all but vanished.

What remains in its place, however, is an equally big divide. This time, it’s the data divide. Because you may put the means of access in the hands of everyone, but if you keep the cost of access too high, the divide remains.

The data divide can be defined by simple arithmetic.  The average revenue per user (ARPU) on the MTN network is R100 per month. The average user typically cannot afford to buy a large data bundle or is not accustomed to the idea of buying data by the bundle at all. As a result, any data use comes off airtime, based on the ad hoc cost of data. In other words, R1 per Megabyte on the MTN network. 

Last month, the average web page of the world’s 1000 most visited sites, according to HTTParchive.org, which “tracks how the Web is built”, was 1,85 Megabytes – and growing fast every few months.

This means that reading just three of the main news items from two online newspapers will use up a tenth of the average MTN user’s budget if no bundle is being used. 

Applying this arithmetic to pre-paid customers only is even more eye-opening. On Vodacom, pre-paid ARPU is a mere R67.  Its ad hoc data rate, on the other hand, is a jaw-dropping R2 per Megabyte. The same reader will use up a third of an average month’s spend on a single morning’s quick flick through the main news stories.

Now add all of that together, and what does the arithmetic tell you? Simply that the mass market that is embracing smartphones is not ready to embrace the Internet wholeheartedly. What should it tell the operators? There is no justification in this country to charge R1 or R2 per Megabyte when the operators are talking the language of digital inclusion.

Vodacom in fact has a great offering for bridging the divide: an option called a Power Bundle, allowing users to buy 50MB of data for R3 – effectively 6c per Megabyte. That’s on a par with the per-MB cost of Vodacom’s most expensive bundles – but it has to be used within 60 minutes of activation.

On the one hand, that’s the equivalent of consuming all the latest news on several newspapers, watching a few YouTube videos and downloading a few music tracks. On the other hand, the user has to know about it to take advantage of it, and can’t use it as needed. It’s still a significantly better option than MTN’s cheapest bundle, 30MB for R10, or 33c per Megabyte.

The puzzling aspect of these prices is that, if data can be sold to low-end users at anywhere from 6c to 33c per Megabyte, why retain the R1 and R2 ceiling prices? When it merely creates bad public relations for the networks?

Cell C rubs salt into the wound by claiming that 99c per Megabyte is “a good rate”. It then contradicts itself with an argument that the high out-of-bundle rate is designed to push consumers to buy bundles, which help the networks better plan capacity and load “dimensions”. However, it is hard to see how this can be the case when there is no specific timeframe on when data bundles will be activated or used.

Let’s take one more look at the shape of the digital divide:

The more well-off data users among us regularly buy by the Gigabyte. If we can afford from R399 to R699 a month, we can buy one of the following 10GB bundles:

MTN: R399 (4c/MB)

Vodacom: R599 (6c/MB)

Cell C: R699 (7c/MB)

Telkom Mobile: R698  (7c/MB)

The least well-off among us, who believe they cannot afford to buy any bundle upfront, will pay 99c per MB on Cell C, R1 on MTN and Telkom Mobile and R2 on Vodacom. Given the current cost of the smallest bundles, why not bring this ceiling down to 33c? That is, in effect, what it would take just to begin crossing the data divide. It would also pull the teeth from the most severe criticism the operators face in the second half of 2014.

Free Wi-FI hotspots, such as those being rolled out by Project Isizwe, help to minimise the impact of the data divide, but their reach is limited.

While the networks grapple with the arithmetic, though, there is something they can do to ease the burden: they can zero rate key educational sites, like the global Wikipedia encyclopedia and the South African open source maths and science syllabus site Siyavula, allowing free access to these – and other – revolutionary tools of learning. 

They could also add Government sites, online and mobile health advice and counseling services, and directories of public service entities like clinics and police stations. The impact on their networks would be negligible, yet the impact on those stuck on the wrong side of the data divide could be immense. And it would go some way to burnishing the image of the operators.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and view his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

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