It’s almost the end of another busy year in SA’s technology industry. We know what our favourite stories were in 2011, but which articles did you, TechCentral’s readers, pore over the most? These are the pieces, in ascending order from 10 to one, that generated the most reads during the year, according to our analytics software.
In August, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” operating system won over self-confessed Apple-addict Alistair Fairweather with its “intuitive, fluid, immersive and reactive” interface. Fairweather called it a “beautiful operating system” and suggested that if the Redmond, Seattle-based software giant and its new partner Nokia could fork out enough money on marketing they may actually win back some of the market share lost to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS in smartphones.
Consumers rejoiced in March when i3 Africa, a National Empowerment Fund-backed company, announced it had plans to build a high-speed fibre network into as many as 2,5m SA homes. Expected to be available in six SA cities, the project will use sewers, water pipes, and what it calls “micro trenching” to expedite the process of laying its fibre-to-the-home network. Since TechCentral revealed the company’s plans, however, i3 Africa has gone quiet.
Mobile operators Vodacom and Cell C were already fighting a battle at the Advertising Standards Authority over the latter’s controversial advertisements when Vodacom accused a former executive creative director from its advertising agency, Draftfcb, of divulging confidential company information for use in Cell C’s campaign. The accused, Grant Jacobsen, dismissed the accusations.
Although Cell C kicked off the latest round of mobile broadband price wars, it was newcomer 8ta — owned by Telkom — that really got tongues wagging when it introduced its 10GB for R199/month contract special offier in June. 8ta’s largely empty network made the offer possible and although other operators have responded in various ways, none has yet been able to match the low prices.
In July, Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei announced its entry into SA’s consumer tablet market with its (relatively) low-cost Ideos S7 Slim device. Though the battery life and screen resolution left a lot to be desired, particularly with so many high-end offerings from competitors, at R3 500 the S7 introduced SA to the concept of budget hardware and showed that Huawei is serious about the local market.
TechCentral’s movie and gaming critic, Lance Harris, had a busy year. His review of director Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go drew in the readers. The movie is an adaption of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name and deals with the rather serious subject of cloning for organ-harvesting. With a script from author of The Beach, Alex Garland, Romanek’s film was handled with a subtlety seldom found in dystopian tales.
In November, the Samsung Galaxy Note, a 5,3-inch monster, arrived in SA to a positive reception. We loved its functionality, but not the fact that it looked — and felt — more like a tablet than a phone, particularly when pressed to the side of your head. Some people call it a “phablet”.
TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod secured an exclusive interview with Ubuntu Linux founder and SA’s favourite billionaire Mark Shuttleworth in August. Shuttleworth bemoaned the worldwide patent system for stifling innovation and called for it to be reformed. He also hinted at Ubuntu’s new interface Unity being used on tablet computers and questioned how long Apple can maintain its growth trajectory.
September saw the arrival of Samsung’s answer to the iPad 2, the Galaxy 10,1 Tab, on SA shores. With higher resolution, a faster processor, more RAM, less weight, more screen real estate and a microSD slot, Samsung’s flagship tablet outshines the iPad on the hardware front, but with Android lacking the sleekness of Apple’s iOS, the Galaxy 10.1 still trails on the sales front.
Greg Mahlknecht, a Durban-based software developer, built a free map showing the world’s submarine telecommunications cable systems. Though the map took months to complete, Mahlknecht made it available to anyone who wants to use it, free of charge, at cablemap.info. The width of the cables on the map reflects their relative design capacities. — Staff reporter, TechCentral
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