Africa Dispatches: Break-out brands

There was a time when Silicon Valley dominated technology’s global brand map. Information and communications technology (ICT) brands like Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Google and Oracle ruled this world. But the landscape is shifting, reports Jon Pienaar (@j0nn0) in this Mark Magazine: Africa Dispatches feature.

Apple and Microsoft reveal their new strategic thinking

by Arthur Goldstuck (@art2gee) Last Thursday, the world changed – once again.

Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8 was the obvious, expected and long-planned main event. Not quite as expected or planned, Microsoft’s nemesis, Apple, announced its first disappointing financial results in many years.

The irony of this turning of the tables was that, just two days earlier, Apple had made its own biggest product announcement in its history. It had launched the new iPad mini 7.9” tablet, along with a fourth generation iPad, and new versions of its iconic iMac computer, MacBook Pro laptop and Mac mini computer.

Such an extensive upgrade of its range, the launch of a new format and the arrival of the iPad 4 barely six months after the previous version, represented a show of force by Apple. Coming – not coincidentally – two days before the launch of Windows 8, it sent a message that Apple was able to go large any time it wanted, and that it had not lost its touch for producing deeply desirable products.

At the same time, however, it revealed chinks in its armour. Crucially, the new 7.9” iPad mini represented the first major new product from Apple in more than a decade that did not lead the market. It was a response to the massive inroads made into its tablet market share by 7” tablets, in particular Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Brand reinvention: What Windows 8 means for Microsoft (and computing)

Debate swirling around Microsoft’s proposed Surface tablet misses the point about the significance of Windows 8, writes Arthur Goldstuck (@art2gee).

It’s almost a mantra in the computer business that you write off Microsoft at your peril. The company’s Windows operating system runs most of the world’s computers, it has tens of billions of dollars in the bank, and its Office software sets the standard for productivity tools in the working world.

Yet, it remains fashionable to predict its demise or declare it is unable to innovate and is about to be supplanted by Google or Apple.

That summed up the response to Microsoft’s announcement last month that it would release its own tablet computer, to be called the Surface. (see ). Its most striking feature is a thin, touch-sensitive cover that folds out into a keyboard, with a built-in trackpad. It will run the new Windows 8 operating system, in two configurations: a lower-end version called Windows RT, and the business-oriented Windows Pro.

Media Future: Battle of the mobile operating systems

by Arthur Goldstuck (@art2gee) The next big technology war is about to start on the mobile phone battleground. But this war is not about features and hardware, but is instead about operating systems.

The next big war in technology is about to be fought, and the battleground is the mobile phone. But it’s not the obvious war over who has the best features, size, weight, sound and screen quality. It is the next phase in the war of operating systems, and it begins this week.

Gadget War 1 ended in victory for Apple, when it’s iPhone completely transformed the phone market, and set a new benchmark for ease of use, integration of applications, and sheer aesthetic appeal.

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