Price war pays off for Cell C

Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig says a company is just “butting its head against the wall” until it gets to at least 20% of the market share.

Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig says a company is just “butting its head against the wall” until it gets to at least 20% of the market share.

 

Cell C’s barrage of price cuts has started paying off for the country’s third cellphone operator, which now sees approximately 700 000 new subscribers join its network each month.

The “underdog” operator came under the industry radar again when former Vodacom head Alan Knott-Craig took the helm almost six months ago and started shaking things up – giving rise to what has been termed a mobile “price war”.

From the word go, Knott-Craig said his number one goal with Cell C was to grow market share. In January, when news of his appointment first broke, he said his aim was to gain a 25% share of the market. This means a doubling of Cell C’s current market share of 13% over three years, as per Knott-Craig’s contract term.

Knott Craig recently reiterated his ultimate aim in light of SA’s incumbent duopoly, Vodacom and MTN. “You need to have about 20% of the market share to be in the game. Until you get to that point, you are just butting your head against the wall. At 25%, you are assured of financial sustainability, and that is where you want to be. If you are not aiming for it, you aren’t going to get there.”

Ample churn

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says the notable monthly customer migration to Cell C, to a large degree, represents churn.

“Our understanding is that a large proportion of the 700 000 new subscribers represents churn. Natural churn in the prepaid market is already very high – more than 40% a year – and that would be a lot higher where a network is introducing a dramatically reduced pricing structure.

“Although users can convert the package they are on, the typical prepaid user would simply dump the old number and take up a new prepaid account, purely for the perceived immediacy thereof.”

He says the net effect of these additions is possibly between 100 000 and 200 000 a month.

Goldstuck says, also to be borne in mind, is that Cell C’s growth comes at a time that the industry as a whole is seeing unprecedented growth.

“Cell C is growing faster now than at any time in its history, but it is growth within a market that is growing as a whole, so the gain in market share will not be as fast as the gain in subscribers.”

Nevertheless, he says, SA will see the impact of Cell C’s simplified low-cost approach to prepaid customers. “We saw MTN’s prepaid growth rate slashed in the first half of this year compared to the last six months of 2011. This must to some extent be attributable to Cell C winning market share.”

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German court rules that Motorola, Samsung don’t violate Apple touch event patent

Galaxy S III and iPhone 4S

Motorola and Samsung just caught a break from the law after a few hard knocks. A Mannheim, Germany court has ruled that neither company infringes on an Apple patent covering how an OS responds to and ignores touch events. While we don’t yet know the full details, patent lawsuit guru Florian Mueller suggests that the German judge took the same point of view that thwarted Apple’s claims in the Netherlands and the UK: the particular patent was just too broad to stick. It’s a potentially important win, as a ruling of violation could have led to serious problems with keeping Android-based Motorola and Samsung devices in stores; other patents are more easily circumvented. However, it’s still something of a Pyrrhic victory for a pair of companies that have lately been facing the threat of near-term bans and steep damages. ~ Jon Fingaz

Packaging hints at ASUS Padfone 2 having 4.7-inch 720p display, 13MP camera, quad-core S4 Pro

Packaging hints at ASUS Padfone 2 having 47inch 720p display, 13MP camera, quadcore S4 Pro

We can’t guarantee what this box contains, but if the list of specs is accurate then it’s definitely too good to gift-wrap. The photo above was posted to a Chinese forum thread entitled “Padfone 2 specs revealed” by a user called cj1024, and indeed the A68 model number at the top of the list does sound appropriate, considering the original Padfone was the A66. If we assume it’s legit, for the sake of argument, then maybe we can expect ASUS’s next modular phone to come with the same quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 13-megapixel camera resolution that are already strutting around in the LG Optimus G, alongside an uncommonly bright, 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 Super IPS+ display, LTE and 2GB of RAM. You can digest the rest for yourself, or just wait until October 16th.

Update: the display icon says “SuperAMOLED” even though the specs state “Super IPS.” Dodgy ‘chop or actual packaging error? You decide. ~Sharif Sakr

New Halo 4 campaign screenshots reveal more of Requiem

Screenshots of Halo 4 for the Xbox 360

 

New screenshots of the Halo 4 campaign were released Friday showing new areas of the games plus more of the Prometheans and Covenant.

Halo 4 primarily takes place on the mysterious Shield World named Requiem. Adrift in space in half of the Forward Unto Dawn, Cortana has spent the last five years watching over Master Chief in a cryotube while sending out distress calls. What she finds instead is a fanatical splinter faction of the Covenant and the mysterious Requiem. This is when players spring into action as Master Chief.

 

Screenshots of Halo 4 for the Xbox 360

 

Screenshots of Halo 4 for the Xbox 360

The screenshots really showoff the graphical refresh that 343 Industries has given the game engine for Halo 4. While previous games of the current generation ran at “sub-HD” levels, the latest in the series will not only run at 720p but all the character models received substantial upgrades and re-work.

Halo 4 is headed out for the Xbox 360 on November 6.

Playing PC games on TV opens up new world of gaming

Big in-your-face action <i>(Image: Schedivy Pictures/Getty Images)</i>

 

A new PC interface for TV screens is set to change gaming – and could herald future smart TVs with the power of modern PCs

THE world’s largest video-game distribution platform for PCs is now available on televisions, bringing a new community of gamers into the living room.

Last week, Valve, the US firm behind the acclaimed Half-Life and Portal games, launched Big Picture, a television interface for Steam, the company’s PC-only video-game distribution and social-media platform.

The move aims to change the gaming landscape. It will also accelerate a move towards smart TVs equipped with the power of modern PCs.

Even though Steam offers over 1500 games and claims around 50 million PC gamers, it is still something of an industry niche. Big game publishers such as EA and Ubisoft are geared towards console releases, with PC versions of games coming later, if at all.

But even Sony’s PS3, the youngest of the current generation of consoles, is six years old. PC hardware, meanwhile, gets better and cheaper every year. With Nintendo launching its new console in November and Sony and Microsoft poised to follow in 2013, Valve is determined to muscle in on console territory: the family sofa. As a Big Picture promo video puts it: “Sometimes, you just want to kick it in the living room.”

“It’s about being a couple of steps ahead of the curve,” says John Walker, co-director of cult PC-gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. “It’s a really interesting flag they’re placing.”

Big Picture provides an alternative interface for Steam which lets users bring their profile – including their social network and personal library of games – out of the bedroom or home office and into the family environment of the living room. It includes a TV web browser optimised for use with a game controller or a keyboard and mouse.

The downside is that you need to run an HDMI cable from your PC to the television. That’s fine for laptops, but will be impractical if the PC and TV are not in the same room. But TVs with built-in PCs are a future inevitability, says Walker. Such a combo would also make on-demand streaming of films over the internet far more convenient. Another possibility would be for Valve to offer its own Steam set-top box – a small, dedicated games PC running the Linux operating system. Valve is already adapting its games to run on a Linux version of Steam, Walker notes, making this less of a technological leap.

Both Steam and consoles face competition from cloud-based gaming services like OnLive and Gaikai, which Sony recently bought for $380 million. Because the computing for these games is done on servers in the cloud, a TV with a small set-top box is all the computing power that is required to play. But internet bandwidth limitations mean that cloud-based gaming cannot yet compete with the console or PC experience.

Valve’s move will have a big impact on independent game developers, as getting approval to publish a game and charge for it via Steam is far easier than on consoles. And there are very few restrictions to distributing games on PCs.

“Steam on a TV is massively exciting for an indie developer,” says Mike Bithell, who is lead game designer at Bossa Studios in London by day and an independent developer by night. “It’s a fast and easy way to take a game created with the PC in mind and transfer it almost immediately to couch play.” ~ Douglas Heaven

Borderlands 2’s Mechromancer class gets a name; coming October 16

Borderlands 2 Image

Gearbox today released an official Borderlands 2 Mechromancer promo revealing the character’s name and final design. Joining Axton, Maya, Salvador, and Zer0 will be Gaige, the Mechromancer, who will arrive as downloadable DLC following the launch of Borderlands 2.

While Borderlands 2 will release on September 18 (September 21 internationally), Gaige won’t arrive until October 16. Gaige will be free to those who are members of the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club whose membership is free as long as you pre-order the game at participating retailers. For those who wait, the Mechromancer will be available for $9.99 (800 Microsoft Points).

The new promo doesn’t reveal much about the character’s abilities, but the final design shows Gaige on top of her guardian robot, Deathtrap. Part cyborg, Gaige can use her robotic arm to control Deathtrap to destroy enemies. Her skills remain largely a mystery, but last month it was said that she has a skill tree that makes the game easier for those less-skill in first-person co-op shooters. The tree was coined as a “girlfriend mode”, which Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford quickly shot down.

In addition to the Mechromancer DLC, Gearbox has plans for four additional add-on campaigns, each featuring several hours of gameplay that will “introduce new adventures allies, enemies, and environments”. While they’ll be available and priced individually, gamers who already know they plan on purchasing them can go ahead and get the Borderlands 2 Season Pass. ~ Matt Liebel

IPhone 5 Limits Set to Spark Samsung Discounts in Europe

IPhone 5 Restriction Poised to Spark Samsung Discounts in Europe

IPhone 5 Limits Set to Spark Samsung Discounts in Europe

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone 5, which bars customers of some European carriers from accessing the fastest available mobile networks, will prompt those operators to cut prices for handsets from rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) The iPhone 5, which went on sale today, will connect to fourth-generation wireless networks in Europe that run on an 1,800 megahertz band, favoring carriers who do have a network attuned to that frequency, including Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) and its British EE venture with France Telecom SA. (FTE) Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) and Telefonica SA (TEF)’s O2 unit will only be able to offer the iPhone 5 on their slower 3G networks.

The restrictions of the iPhone 5 will “push Vodafone and many other European operators harder into the arms of Samsung,” especially as the South Korean company’s popular Galaxy line of phones includes a 4G version that is compatible with their networks, said Robin Bienenstock, a London-based analyst for Sanford C Bernstein. With the iPhone 5 predicted by analysts to become the fastest selling technology gadget in history, subsidies and promotions will help operators that only offer the device on slower networks to keep customers. Vodafone lost its top spot in the U.K. to O2 after failing to win the exclusive rights to the first iPhone in 2007.

The device became Telefonica’s best- selling phone ever and two-thirds of the clients coming to its U.K. network were poached from rivals. Upgrade Discount O2 plans to offer iPhone 5 customers with a long-term contract the chance to upgrade to a 4G phone once the operator’s own 4G service is available, according to Telefonica spokesman Simon Lloyd. The carrier will chip in 10 percent of the cost of buying out the contract and pay the taxes, he said. The new networks, based on long-term evolution, or LTE, technology, allow users to watch videos, stream music or perform other data-intensive tasks at a faster speed. EE, the largest mobile-phone operator in the U.K., said this week that the new 4G service is five times faster than is currently available. Samsung vaulted to the top of the global smartphone market by introducing a variety of Galaxy models using Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software.

While the iPhone is the most popular smartphone, Android is more widely used, showing up in devices from Samsung to HTC Corp. (2498) Galaxy S III Samsung said this month that sales of its latest Galaxy S III, which has a bigger screen than the iPhone 5 and also works with 4G networks based on different frequencies, topped 20 million units. Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) unveiled a lineup of Lumia models this month with the most recent Microsoft Corp. Windows Phone software, aiming to win back market share with better camera and mapping technology. Customers in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and New York lined up for the iPhone 5 today.

Queues of more than 1,000 people gathered in Frankfurt and London this morning as loyal Apple customers raced to get the latest device. Piper Jaffray Cos analyst Gene Munster predicts that 10 million iPhone 5 may be sold this weekend. Shares of Samsung climbed 1.2 percent to close at 1,302,000 won in Seoul. In German trading, Apple slipped 0.2 percent to the equivalent of $701.10 as of 10:56 a.m. in Frankfurt. Nokia dropped 0.6 percent to 2.19 euros on the Helsinki exchange. Subsidy Question “The question for operators now becomes in the near term – – how sticky is Apple’s software versus the better speeds of the Samsung Galaxy’s, and how much subsidy will be put behind this,” Bienenstock said. Vodafone and O2 offer 4G devices from Samsung, LG Electronics Inc. (066570) and HTC that are able to run on the operator’s 4G networks based on frequencies other than the 1,800 MHz band.

In the U.K., EE said Sept. 11 it will start the service and give pricing details in coming weeks. The U.K. auction of 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz frequencies is set to begin later this year, allowing a general rollout of faster data services in 2013, regulator Ofcom has said. Vodafone has opposed EE’s move to start 4G services ahead of an upcoming auction of frequencies, saying it was “shocked” by Ofcom’s approval of the service, which creates a “competitive distortion.” “We’ll have to work a bit harder and we’ll have to work with other devices,”

Vodafone Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford said last week. “We’ll be looking at the pricing and competitiveness of those devices.” To be sure, EE’s LTE network isn’t widely available — rolling out in 16 British cities by Christmas — and as the first entrant in the U.K., the burden will fall on them to introduce customers to the new technology and market its benefits, said Gyanee Dewnarain, a London-based analyst at researcher Gartner Inc. (IT) “They’ll have to do the work to educate the mass market,” Dewnarain said. “The mass market doesn’t have a clue what LTE is.” By the time they do, Vodafone may be ready to offer its own service, she said.

BlackBerry network down again

RIM’s BlackBerry network is down again, disconnecting users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but that won’t come as a surprise to the socially connected.

The outage started around 09.00 this morning, RIM reckons it’s only affecting “some users” but the mailbox here at Vulture Central is filling up with (sadly resigned) complaints from readers who’ve experienced the problem so “some” would seem to be a significant proportion.

 RIM isn’t saying what’s going wrong, only promising to get it fixed as quickly as possible and apologising for the inconvenience.

“We are currently experiencing a BlackBerry service issue impacting some users in Europe, Middle East & Africa. All relevant support teams are working to resolve the issue. We apologize to any customers who may be affected.”

The more socially-aware BlackBerry user will already know all this: BlackBerry’s Twitter feed and Facebook page have had notifications about the problem for the last hour or so, and if you don’t subscribe to the spewing news feed of every manufacturer of every service you use daily then you really only have yourself to blame.

Canon adds another full-frame model

Canon 6D
Canon 6D Full Frame D-SLR
The inclusion of a full-frame sensor offers greater control over depth of field in portraits, allowing photographers to easily isolate their subjects with attractive background blur. With the Canon 6D, photographers can now also explore the full potential of their wide-angle EF lenses to capture every detail of a sweeping landscape, with models ranging from 8mm to 800mm. Additionally powerful DIGIC 5+ image processing offers a host of automatic modes and creative shooting features, complementing full manual controls to offer total flexibility to a wide range of users.
Canon EOS 6D
Canon EOS 6D features
The Canon 6D digital SLR camera is full of advanced features to assist photographers in capturing outstanding quality landscapes and portraits. HDR mode enables the capture of both highlights and low lights in tricky lighting conditions, while Multiple Exposures allows photographers to combine up to nine separate exposures into a single image in-camera, creating a dramatic effect in the final picture. A silent drive mode offers a more subtle option for shooting candid portraits or weddings, and a single axis electronic level accessed through the viewfinder or via the LCD display, ensures that horizons are level during image composition.
6D
Canon 6D Sales package
• Canon EOS 6D body
• Canon LP-E6 battery pack
• Canon LC-E6 battery charger
• Canon AVC-DC400ST stereo AV cable
• Canon EOS digital solution disk
• Software Instruction Manual CD
• Canon EOS 6D instruction manual
• USB interface cable
• Wide neck strap

Canon 6D price and availability
The Canon 6D body carries a suggested retail price of € 2000,- Euro. Prices may vary from country to country. Visit the Canon website in your country for more information and optional EOS 6D accessories.
EOS 6D

iOS 6 Jailbreak already available, but not for all devices

Apple’s iOS 6, the latest iteration of its mobile operating system was released yesterday and before some people have even managed to download the update it seems the ingenious developer community have already managed to come up with a tethered jailbreak using the latest version of the Redsn0w tool. The speed of some jailbreaks is really quite remarkable and we have all the details below but you need to be aware that this won’t work with all devices.

Hackers seem to be particularly quick at jailbreaking new iOS’s as the last few were jailbroken within a day of release by the dev community. Only a couple of days ago we told how one hacker advised those with jailbroken iOS devices not to update to iOS 6 until a jailbreak was available for it. We also then told about the iOS 6 TinyUmbrella app to save SHSH blobs. Now the Redsn0w iOS 6 jailbreak is available but a significant point is that this will only work with some iOS devices, namely the A4-based iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th generation. Also as mentioned earlier this is a tethered jailbreak and there is not yet an untethered jailbreak available.

News of the Redsn0w tool jailbreak for iOS 6 came to us from Redmond Pie and came from the creative minds of the iPhone Dev Team. As usual we cannot recommend jailbreaking your device and anything that goes wrong is totally your own responsibility. Nevertheless we know that many people out there do enjoy the freedom of a jailbroken device so we will give you the details if you wish to take advantage. You’ll probably already know that if you want to go ahead with a jailbreak you’ll need to do a full backup of information but if you rely on unlock then you should avoid updating to iOS 6 at the moment.

You’ll need to download the newest Redsn0w version for either Mac or Windows from the source provided in the Redmond Pie article linked to above. You will also find full step-by-step instructions on how to perform the jailbreak process as well as how-to boot tethered on iOS 6 and also how to install Cydia on iOS 6 as the latest version of Redsn0w doesn’t do this by default. No doubt there will be many happy iOS 6 jailbreakers using any apps they choose on their devices very shortly.

Please remember this jailbreak is only for the A4-based iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th generation. It will NOT work for the other devices that support iOS 6, namely the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3 (new iPad) and finally the iPod touch 5th generation. We’re interested to hear from readers about the iOS 6 jailbreak with the latest Redsn0w tool.