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Canonical’s Ubuntu Phone OS Aims To Steal Everyone’s Customization-Loving Customers

The odds are stacked against Canonical’s late-comer Ubuntu phone OS. But by seducing hardcore mobile users who love to customize, it could box out Microsoft and pull lucrative customers away from Android and iOS. Tinkerers buy high-end devices, pay for apps, and attract premium advertisers. So if Ubuntu mobile gains traction, it could earn solid revenue and win the mobile bronze medal.

You could divide Android’s customer base into two categories if you wanted to make things simple. There’s budget-minded first-world citizens plus those in emerging markets that buy low-end Androids because they’re affordable. And the there’s the hackers, mod’ers, customizers, and other seriously wired people who value Android’s flexibility. They don’t want a dumbed down iOS device. They want an OS they can truly personalize.
It’s this second group Ubuntu mobile will appeal to. It’s also gunning for uniqueness-craving users that might be into Microsoft’s Metro mobile OS, and design geek iOSers who’ll dig Ubuntu’s refined style. And then there’s the savvy teens who want something different from their parents’ boring operating system. They all could flirt with Ubuntu if Canonical sells it right. Already, the company seems to see this niche as its destiny.

Canonical‘s CEO Mark Shuttleworth said in the industry proposition video, “When you turn on the Ubuntu phone you’ll see something strikingly different. You’ll see a beautiful reflection of yourself, a visualization of your life crafted by an artist, ever-changing, totally personal, and completely unique, just like you.”
Shuttleworth explains “you’re in control of the controls” thanks to a customizable set of favorite apps revealed with a swipe. Pull down to the bottom to hide buttons and let apps shine full-screen. From the lock screen you can access any app and see evolving graphics representing your latest alerts. You can hook it up to a monitor or other peripherals, which could be nice for developers. It’s open source. These all could attract people serious about customizing their phones.

Of course, without manufacturers or carriers locked down, the future where Ubuntu makes a dent in its competitors is hazy at best. At the current rate of development, Android will be a technological powerhouse by 2014 when Canonical expects Ubuntu phones to hit the market. Metro may have gained a foothold, and iOS will be institutionalized.

But Ubuntu doesn’t need to displace iOS or Android, or even try to. It could use a know-your-role strategy of not shooting for #1, similar to Opera. If Ubuntu resonates with hardcore users, it could gain just enough traction to win third-place. That would sucker-punch Microsoft, and put another nail in RIM’s coffin. Mobile’s big enough to support a few winners. Android and iOS have a big lead and are jostling for the top two spots.The race for #3 just got a lot more interesting.

T-Mobile Introduces The BlackBerry Curve 9315, The Most Ridiculous Deal In Mobile Phones

T-Mobile has just announced the BlackBerry Curve 9315, which will be available January 23 for the price of $49 on a 2-year agreement. They’re touting it as the most affordable BlackBerry on the T-Mobile network, and it is, but it’s also maybe the worst deal in smartphones right now. The Curve 9315 is essentially just the Curve 9310, which was launched in July 2012 and is RIM’s low-end phone. To see it rebranded for T-Mobile and introduced at this price on contract, hitting shelves a week before BB10 is officially unveiled is baffling.
BB10 is set to debut officially at a launch event January 30, taking place at a number of different locations worldwide. Reports and rumors suggest that the first phones using that operating system could go on sale shortly after that, possibly as early as February if not before. The Curve 9315 is being marketed as a low-cost device, and in fact “the most affordable BlackBerry smartphone” on T-Mobile’s network, but it will still come with a $49.99 “out-of-pocket down payment,” followed by 20 equal monthly payments of $10 and require that customers sign up for a 2-year special value agreement on T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan. Or, if you’re going with a traditional contract plan (not the value variety), it’ll still cost you $49.99 (and that’s after a $50 mail-in rebate).
The Curve 9315 will become available for pre-sale to T-Mobile business customers starting January 16, and goes on sale to the general public through T-Mobile stores starting January 23. The device comes with a 3.2 megapixel rear camera, a microSD storage expansion slot, a 320×240 164ppi display and 512MB of RAM, and only offers 3G connectivity. It’s an aging device (and one largely based on the Curve 9300 platform released in 2010, with a few spec bumps), with a new model number specific to T-Mobile, and severely underspecced to arrive at this point in the game and at that price.
A low-end Curve 9315 device release at this point in the game is definitely a head-scratcher, especially when it comes with a $49 price tag (which adds up to $200 if you’re doing the installment payment plan). But it’s made even more bizarre by the imminent launch of BlackBerry 10. RIM has been touting BB7 as still a viable mobile OS all along, even as it crowed about BB10, but looking for customers to pay that much for this device a week ahead of the unveiling of a new OS with which it won’t be compatible seems crazy. True, RIM won’t likely offer BB10 on hardware at entry-level prices out of the gate, but then use BB7 as a true budget mobile OS; at this point, the Curve 9315 should be free on contract, and extremely cheap without.


A new mobile health campaign Wazazi Nipendeni translated, Parents Love Me was launched in Tanzania to help pregnant women in safe delivery.
The campaign integrates all safe motherhood health areas, including early and complete anti nental care, malaria prevention, mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), individual birth planning and safe delivery.
Wazazi Nipendeni is a partnership led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Reproductive and Child Health Section in coordination with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), the Health Promotion and Education Section, and the mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership.
Pregnant women, mothers with babies up to 16 weeks and their supporters can send the word "mtoto" (child in Kiswahili) to the short code 15001 free of charge. After registering, users receive a range of free messages covering all aspects of safe pregnancy and early child care.
All messages have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and tuned to the specific month or week of pregnancy or age of the baby.
The service offers the registrants time sensitive reminders for ANC visits, SP doses for prevention of malaria as well as information on testing for HIV, nutrition, individual birth planning and much more.

Samsung And DoCoMo Reportedly Team Up To Offer Tizen Smartphones In 2013.

Samsung and Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile communication company, are joining forces to develop Tizen, an open source OS that supporters hope will cut into the 90% marketshare held by Google and Apple. The smartphones may be on the market by next year, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun. DoCoMo is the only firm among Japan’s three top mobile operators that does not sell iPhones, which has caused it to lose a substantial amount of subscribers over the last four years.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the Tizen-equipped smartphones are likely to be released in Japan and other countries around the world at the same time. The Next Web speculates that one likely platform for a first look at the devices is the Mobile World Congress in February, though Samsung’s focus on the Galaxy S4 means that launch dates are harder to predict. The Korean company is diversifying its OS offerings: it also plans to release Window Phone devices around the same time Tizen smartphones are expected to make their debut.
Tizen was launched by Samsung in conjunction with Intel to replace the MeeGo platform, which was cancelled by the Linux Foundation in September 2011 in favor of Tizen, but consumers have had to wait a while to try out the OS (the Linux Foundation had originally hoped to release Tizen devices by mid-2012). The open source, Linux-based operating system offers a contrast to Android and iOS by making it easier for mobile phone service companies to offer their own services.


Dear Hackers, 

Every day, 2.5 billion people wake up without access to adequate sanitation: a problem that has become a life or death issue in many of the world’s developing regions. How can we help them by using apps to raise awareness and provide local solutions to this global problem?
That’s the challenge…
NOW THE GOOD NEWS. You still have a chance to register for the Sanitation App Challenge, which is the second phase of a global project, which takes the problems identified at the Sanitation Hackathon and involves app makers turning their ideas into functioning apps. Deadline for Sanitation App Challenge idea submission has been extended until January 4th!
Don’t miss this opportunity to build your app, win prizes and be a part of a global project supported by the World Bank.
Register today at the Sanitation App Challenge website, where you can form a team, submit your idea and start building your app. During the next 3 months you will receive support and feedback from experts who will mentor the development of your app.
An online competition will decide which of the app makers will be invited to pitch their ideas live on stage at a gala event in Washington to be held in 2013.
What are you waiting for? Get started!
Why participate?
By taking part in the Sanitation App Challenge, you can:

  • Make a real impact in the lives of millions of people
  • Get the chance to win great prizes with your app
  • Build teams with like-minded developers, designers and marketing experts
  • Get free help from mentors to build your app
  • Be part of a huge global initiative supported by the World Bank and many others

How does it work?
1. Understand the problems! A series of ‘problem statements’ were identified at the Sanitation Hackathon. These are sanitation issues that people face everyday in some of the world’s developing regions.
2. Build your app! Register at sanitation.hackathome.com and start to build your app. Need help? Find like-minded app-makers and form a team. Send in your idea and get feedback from our hack@home mentors. Get online support while building your app!
3. Take part in the online competition and vote online for the best app. Win a trip to Washington D.C. and present your app on the big stage!

Key dates:
Hack@home: build your app and get support 05. DEC - 14.FEB
Online voting: 14.FEB - MARCH
Win the chance to present your app live on stage in Washington, D.C. MARCH 2013
It’s time to change the world, app by app.
Let the challenge begin!


AIRTEL Tanzania Limited announced a mega promotion to reward its customers during the festive season.
Speaking during the launch, Airtel VAS Manager Francis Ndikumwami said "Airtel is giving yet another opportunity to Tanzanians to participate and win cash prizes during this festive season. ”Today we are launching "Amka millionea" with cash prizes worth 401m/- for just 90 days.

There will be daily, weekly, monthly and a grand prize to be won, where 875 Airtel customers will be awarded a total 401m/- He said that there will be top scorer winner prizes and other lucky winners from daily, weekly and monthly draws. "Amka milionea promotion will ensure every day there are 10 winners to win 3m/- daily, 6m/- weekly and 30m/- monthly.

There will be a grand prize of 50m/- at the end of the promotion". Airtel Public Relations Manager Jackson Mmbando said: "What Airtel customers need to do to enrol to the "Amka Milionea" is to sms the word "WIN OR SHINDA" to number 15595 free of charge, and they will be enrolled into the promotion" He added:

"After enrolment the customer will receive a welcome sms and instruction from number 15656 on how to participate in the promotion where they will receive questions to answer and accumulate points".

Every answer will be awarded points, for correct answers 20 points will be given and 10 points for wrong answers, to ensure all our customers receive greater chances of winning. For every answered question there will be a charge of 350/- Tshs including Taxes. The promotion which started yesterday runs until March 2 next year.

By TECH360 Magazine

 AIRTEL Tanzania has donated books worth 16 million to eight Dar es Salaam secondary schools.
The schools that have benefited from the support are Al-Haramain Seminary, Whitelake, Mwambao, Hondogo B, Misitu, Yemen, Yeshua and Archbishop John Sepeku Secondary Schools.

Speaking at the event held at Yemen Secondary School in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, the Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Michael Ole Mugaya admitted that most of schools lack books, thus making the task to offer quality education quite hard.


"It is good that the donation has been done equally to secondary schools from all Dar es Salaam districts. In fact lack of books is a challenge to our government and we always call for other stakeholders to borrow a leaf and do the same or more," said Ole Mugaya Airtel Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Hawa Bayumi said her company was concerned by lack of teaching gears in schools which impacts negatively on the quality of education.

"We have donated books that cut across all subjects such as Geography, Mathematics and Science. We believe that students will study comfortably once every student gets a book," said Ms Hawa.
Antipas Chale, Yemen Secondary School Headmaster who gave a note of appreciation on behalf of the beneficiaries said the support was a morale booster to teachers and students.
Airtel Tanzania is running the initiative under the theme "Shule Yetu Project" to help alleviate shortage of teaching aids in schools. Since the beginning of the project, the company has provided teaching aids to over 1,000 primary and secondary schools.

By TECH360 Magazine


APPLICATION development in Africa got a major boost when Vodafone held its inaugural Middle East and Africa AppStar contest in Midrand this week. According to Pratapa Bernard, vice-president and head of Vodafone solutions for emerging markets, apps present huge opportunities for business and investment.
"There is demand for applications in our market and that demand is because, in emerging markets, be it in Asia or Africa, there is an information asymmetry.

"Consumers have a latent demand to know what is going on around them and part of the problem for delivery of apps was that, unlike in Europe and North America, content was not available locally. 

"That's why you need someone who understands the local context and culture. People in Europe who have the proficiency in developing the apps don't necessarily have that and their understanding of Africa does not exist," said Bernard.
The AppStar competition saw about 3600 developer registrations and more than 500 apps were considered.

Bernard was pleased that many apps were aimed at solving problems for people and communities in areas such as agriculture, transport and education.
"More than half of the apps entered, by design, were local apps and many were from first-hand experience," said Bernard. Bilal Kathrada, one of the South African finalists, entered a mathematics app.

Named Rithmetic, it is aimed at primary school pupils and provides maths worksheets and monitors progress. South Africa's poor maths school results and the fact that many pupils do not grasp the basics inspired him.

Mahmoud Hassan from Egypt's EgySmartTrans came up with a transport app that helps users locate the closest metro rail station and to decide which bus route they need. He said he was inspired by the five million people in Egypt who use public transport and his app helped them plan their trips efficiently.
Tanzania's Ernest Mwalusanya came up with a farming instructor app, which uses text, animation and sounds to convey information to farmers about weather patterns and best practice. The app can also connect farmers to each other so they can share experiences.

Kenya ca me out tops in the contest, occupying the top two spots, with a South African developer in third position. The winning app was Tough Jungle, developed by Gerald Kibugi. It is an action-adventure game that introduces Kenya's culture and history and promotes it as a tourist destination. Kibugi was inspired by the already booming tourism industry in the country.

Gilbert Rono, also from Kenya, entered a maths app called Eureka, which solves complicated problems. Rudolph Joubert, the man behind Ster-Kinekor's movie mobile app, won the third prize. Monetising applications has been a huge problem for many developers. Bernard suggested that more collaboration is needed for app developers to grow.

"One of the things that has been universal is that you will find people who know how to write code and who come up with fantastic application concepts, but they don't have the marketing and business skills.
"And then there are people who can spot business opportunities, but don't know the technology.
"Developers need to be mentored through sector partnerships to monetise their ideas in a way that is relevant to the user. Monetisation is also possible through collaboration in the [application] ecosystem," said Bernard.
He said apps are likely to become big business in emerging economies.

"Unlike the developed market there is a huge information asymmetry and as a result mobile apps will be the dominant source of info for the community. Emerging economies are so diverse in terms of culture, people and language that every community will have its own variance," he said.
"In the long run, this will lead to entrepreneurship that can translate into job opportunities in these markets."

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times
By TECH360 Magazine


Dar es Salaam — A new mobile health campaign Wazazi Nipendeni translated, Parents Love Me was launched in Tanzania to help pregnant women in safe delivery.
The campaign integrates all safe motherhood health areas, including early and complete anti nental care, malaria prevention, mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), individual birth planning and safe delivery.

Wazazi Nipendeni is a partnership led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Reproductive and Child Health Section in coordination with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), the Health Promotion and Education Section, and the mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership.

Pregnant women, mothers with babies up to 16 weeks and their supporters can send the word "mtoto" (child in Kiswahili) to the short code 15001 free of charge. After registering, users receive a range of free messages covering all aspects of safe pregnancy and early child care.
All messages have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and tuned to the specific month or week of pregnancy or age of the baby.
The service offers the registrants time sensitive reminders for ANC visits, SP doses for prevention of malaria as well as information on testing for HIV, nutrition, individual birth planning and much more. 


Airtel customers already avail this facility across the company’s mobile network in 17 African countries, not having to pay roaming charges while travelling across these countries.
“Airtel’s One Network now gives our customers the ability to drastically reduce roaming charges whilst travelling within and across the two continents. Our goal is to provide affordable and relevant mobile communication solutions across borders,” Airtel Africa Chief Marketing Officer Andre Beyers said in a statement.
Airtel customers in Africa need not register for the One Network service or buy new SIM cards as they will now be automatically provisioned as ‘citizens’ of Airtel’s borderless network across 20 countries in Africa and Asia.
This offers opportunities to a base of 60 million Airtel customers in Africa to roam at affordable tariffs in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the statement said. 

“By offering free incoming calls whilst roaming, the service ups the ante for global telecom providers as the seamless service across continents is a world-first amongst mobile service providers,” it added.
Within the African countries, One Network also allows Airtel customers to use their local Airtel SIM cards whilst abroad. This would give them access to attractive rates for calls made and enjoy value added services and recharge using local top up vouchers in the country visited, besides being able to access data.
By TECH360 Magazine


MTN Business has launched a pilot project for its MTN cloud bouquet of services that will among other things provide a single point of contact for its customers, it said on Thursday (6 December).
Cloud computing refers to the delivery of services including software and data over the Internet.
MTN's cloud service brokerage model centralises access to services, where a third party, in this case MTN, acts as the single point of contact for customers. This eases the administrative burden for companies so instead of dealing with multiple service providers, they deal with one.
Farhad Khan, executive for enterprise business at MTN, said the pilot project would be carried out in Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa.
MTN Business has identified a number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in these markets to test its cloud services and product.
MTN Cloud will be targeted at SMEs in Africa to help customers reduce the cost of doing business by offering ICT solutions.
"A particular challenge facing small and medium-sized businesses in Africa is the high cost of information technology software and hardware.
"This includes the licence fees. What MTN Cloud services seeks to do is enable SMEs to minimise these costs, and at the same time improve productivity and efficiency," said Khan.
The trial period with selected customers starts today (7 December) and runs until the end of January next year.
Participating companies will automatically gain access to a variety of MTN cloud services including a back-up service for the effective management of files and servers, and an on-demand video conferencing offering. MTN will also provide McAfee, a popular anti-virus and anti-spam security software.
Users will be able to pay for MTN's cloud offering using their airtime or MTN Mobile Money.
Khan said the overarching objective of MTN Cloud services was to provide customers in the selected markets with "peace of mind, as well as affordable business management tools at reasonable price."
"We want our enterprise customers to focus on running their businesses knowing that their data is kept safely and securely," he said 

By TECH360 Magazine

Facebook Changes Privacy Controls, Forces Users to be Searchable

Facebook is rolling out new privacy controls Wednesday morning, while also taking away the option for you to hide from Facebook search.
The new privacy tools will make it easier for you to pick which of your friends or subscribers can view your personal info, status updates and photos, according to Reuters. It also makes it simpler for you to request that a photograph of yourself be taken down by the uploader.
Facebook is also making changes to your Activity Log, which will make it easier to see where your personal data is traveling across Facebook's Open Graph. Another change: apps must separately ask for permission to tap into your personal information and to post status updates for you. Both actions were previously handled with a single request.
Along with the privacy changes comes the major change to search -- you'll no longer have the option to hide from other Facebook users looking for your name, according to the New York Times. That's likely a move towards becoming a power player in online search -- it's not hard to imagine Facebook as a modern Yellow Pages replacement.

You'll know you have the new privacy features when a privacy shortcut appears in the top-right corner of your Facebook window. Mashable has reached out to Facebook to learn more about the privacy changes, and we will update this post with any response.
The changes come in the wake of a vote in which users, who were overwhelmingly apathetic about the vote, lost the ability to decide the direction of future company policy -- privacy issues included.

Facebook's privacy changes are likely a response to those who criticize the site's privacy and sharing options for being too scattered and confusing. Many power Facebook users understand exactly how to adjust Facebook's privacy options to their liking, but many mainstream users lack that knowledge.
The search changes, however, are likely to aggravate many users and Internet privacy advocates.
How do you set your Facebook privacy settings? Are you mad you will no longer be able to hide from search?
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AndreyGatash


NOKIA has announced that it is now targets over 16 million youth in Tanzania with the introduction of even more affordable smart phones as it seeks to grow its business in the East African region. Speaking to journalists in Dar es salaam on Friday,nokia general manager for east Africa bruce howe said that according to nokia company, the youth market remains a key target, hence the new range of mobile phones come with a rich catalogue of features that appeal to the youth such as gaming, music and social media which is becoming an important source of news and information.
Howe said that the move to tap into the youth market has seen Nokia introduce the nokia 308, the latest addition to the Asha Touch family of mobile devices. The dual SIM nokia Asha 308 will give consumers fast web access at lowest costs.
 “To create this smarter internet experience, Nokia released a new version of Nokia Xpress Browser,which more efficient mobile browsing and faster access to rich web application compared to conventional browsers,” Howe said.
    Telecommunication is the second faster growing sector in the country with over 25 million mobile subscribers by the end of 2012,according to Tanzania communications regulation Authority(TCRA).
     The new devices offer a fluid ‘swipe’ user interface and an open environment for third-party application development, characteristics that have earned the complete Asha Touch range full smart phone classification from global market research companies and analysts such as GfK and  IDC.

     “our innovative Asha Touch family of devices is designed for people who want a great smart phone experience with lower running costs .By introducing the Nokia Asha 308,we’re expanding our affordable smart phone line-up and bringing new mobile experiences to more people.” Said Howe.
      He added that Nokia Asha is the most affordable capacitive touch-screen device to date.”Nokia’s Asha Touch family delivers all the cores smart phone experiences, and with the new software developer kit, provides ever increasing flexibility for developer to build compelling new experiences for consumers.”

     Howe said that Nokia has also introduced two extensions to its Xpress Browser Internet platform, the only cloud-based web browser to support web Nokia nearly web app helps people discover new places by searching nearly locations and presenting the options on map.
By Guardian correspondent.


African mobile telecom operators should now focus on sharing towers as a way of cutting infrastructure costs, an expert has advised. Mr Charles Green, the chiefs executive of holios Towers Africa(HTA) –an   independent telecoms towers company in Africa-made the remarks recently at the 2012 AfricaCOM conference in cape Town, South Africa.” The timing is right because of the infrastructure investment deficit in most sub-saharan African markets,” said Mr Green. more investment will also help the continent meet the site densification require for 3G coverage.
The citizen correspondent.

 Tigo and research for change have recognized the best three outstanding ideas for social entrepreneurs for 2012 at the value of sh120 million. These were: empowering disabled children and youth with vocational training; mobile class for street children; and improving learning through information and communication Technology. Tigo acting over ceremony in Dar es Salaam that they received about 2,480 applications. The winners who scooped Sh40 million each were Brenda Deborah Shuma,Nyabangr chirimi and Thadei Msumanje.
                       Vodacom Tanzania’s M-Pesa hits 4.4 million users 

Tanzania has already seen large growth in its mobile money services, in line with economic progress. Now, Vodacom Tanzania has reported that its mobile money service, M-Pesa, has reached over 4.4 million users across the country, or some 48 percent of its total customer base.
M-Pesa was launched four years ago, and after an initial slow uptake, the service has taken off across the country.
CEO Rene Meza said “about TZS 35 billion is transacted daily through M-Pesa and attributed this to the fact that the service is safe and reliable and is available throughout the country.”
He added that “efforts to drive access to the product have grown steadily, and Vodacom has managed to build an agent network of over 35,000 outlets.” Similar services from Vodacom are set to be rolled out in the DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho over the next nine months.
Mobile money services are seen as a key ingredient to furthering economic growth in Tanzania and the Vodacom report is a positive sign that users are employing their mobile phone devices for that purpose.
Tanzania has reported massive economic growth in recent years, making it one of the most vibrant economies in Africa.
TECH360 Magazine

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