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Xiaomi, Apple, Fitbit Lead as Smartwatches Accelerate in 2Q17- Report

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The worldwide wearables market was once again graced with positive growth as shipments grew 10.3% year over year, reaching 26.3 million during the second quarter of 2017 (2Q17), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

The quarter also marked a turning point in the market as basic wearables (those that do not run third party apps) declined for the first time with annual growth of -0.9%.

Meanwhile, smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Android Wear lineup grew 60.9% in the quarter thanks to fitness and fashion enthusiasts, as Xiaomi, Apple and Fitbit lead the table.

“The transition towards more intelligent and feature-filled wearables is in full swing,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “For years, rudimentary fitness trackers have acted as a gateway to smartwatches and now we’re at a point where brands and consumers are graduating to a more sophisticated device. Previous niche features such as GPS and additional health tracking capabilities are quickly becoming staples of the modern smartwatch. Just a year ago only 24.5% of all wearables had embedded GPS while today that number has reached almost 41.7%.

“Equally important to device features will be the algorithms tracking workouts and providing health insights,” continued Ubrani. “There is growing interest from the medical industry to adopt wearables and consumer expectations are also on the rise. This is where companies like Apple and Fitibit have the potential to maintain their lead as their investments in the tracking and perhaps diagnosing of diseases will be a clear differentiator from low-cost rivals.”

“Market growth favored new and emerging products in the second quarter,” noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team “Smartwatches recorded double-digit year-over-year growth, with much of that increase attributable to a growing number of models aimed at specific market segments, like the fashion-conscious and outdoor enthusiasts in addition to the technophile crowd, lower price points, and a slowly-warming reception from consumers and enterprise users alike. Factor in how smartwatches are taking steps to become standalone devices, and more applications are becoming available, and the smartwatch slowly becomes a more suitable mass market product.

“Meanwhile, we also saw triple-digit growth from clothing and earwear,” continued Llamas. “These products are still in their initial stages, but by targeting specific market niches (performance tracking clothing for professional athletes) or providing unique value propositions (audio adjustment or language translation for earworn devices), these products are offering solutions to problems other than simply reporting data, and gaining traction.”

Company Highlights
Xiaomi maintained its lead in the second quarter as the company’s expertise in driving low-cost devices remains unmatched. Though the Mi Band lineup was the most popular, Xiaomi also caters to the growing market of kids’ devices and recently shipped its first pair of smart shoes under the Mijia brand.

Shipments for the shoes were immaterial during the quarter though IDC anticipates this to gradually grow as Xiaomi gains traction in the clothing/apparel industry.

Apple’s growth continued to outpace the market as the Series 1 and Series 2 are now mature products with the clear and concise purpose of fitness. This has boded well for Apple as the company has been slowly expanding its reach among health insurance providers. The release of the latest Watch OS later this year is also expected to bring much anticipated features like a Siri watch face to the wrist.

Fitbit finds itself in a period of transition. Early leaks and the recent official announcement of the Fitbit Ionic will help cement the company’s place in the growing smartwatch market. However, short-term growth remains challenged as the product portfolio is vast and undifferentiated.

Garmin’s decline of 6.6% from last year should not necessarily be seen as a negative as the company has managed to grow revenue.

Transitioning existing users from basic fitness trackers to more advanced smartwatches like the Fenix lineup has worked well for the company. Recent developer outreach has also allowed Garmin’s ConnectIQ platform to branch outside health and fitness.

Fossil entered the top 5 for the first time and much of this is credited to the acquisition of Misfit in late 2015.

With a large distribution network of fashion stores and multiple brands Fossil managed to attract a previously unaware audience to the wearables market.

While smartwatches from Michael Kors and Fossil took center stage, the company’s hybrid watch lineup also gained traction.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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New Toll Gates to be Located at Old Spots – Fashola

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The Federal Government has announced that it has concluded plans to re-introduce tolls on major highways across the country.

 

Mr. Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing, while appearing before the Senate Commitee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency on Thursday, said 38 points had been identified in the first phase of the re-introduction.

 

“Clearly, tolling is coming,” the minister told the lawmakers.

 

While saying that the new toll gates would be situated at the old spots, Fashola stated that tolls would be collected after the roads had been made motorable.

 

He said, “We are not going to ask road users to pay toll on a road that is not good. While the construction (of gates) is going on, we are working on the design. We want to standardise the design so that when we ask people to come and bid for the construction, we can control what they are going to construct. They are going to construct with the materials we have prescribed.

 

“We can also control the price so that nobody is bidding with disparage prices; there will be the floor and the ceiling. Your price will vary according to how many plazas you build and not because you claim to have used ‘foreign’ materials.

 

“The last part we are working on is the software that drives the management, audit and payment of toll. We want to use the development that has taken place between when the old toll plazas were dismantled and now. There were no GSM and payment platforms as of that time as we have cell phones and cards now. We want to make it very easy for people to go to kiosks and buy toll cards and pay tolls.

 

“It will also be easy to audit from any of our offices. We will be able to see what is going on, how many people passed, how many vehicles, and we can settle payments to operators in a very transparent and accountable way.”

 

Members of the committee decried that only N800m had been released to FERMA out of the N25bn voted to the agency in the 2017 budget.

 

They disclosed that there was a plan to move a motion next week to ask the government to release more funds for road maintenance as the Yuletide season was approaching.

 

Fashola however said releases to FERMA were suspended as the agency did not have a board for some time.

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AfDB Approves $15m Equity Investment in Africa Capital Works Fund

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$ 15m equity participation in Africa Capital Works Fund.

The investment will finance Sub Saharan Africa’s mid-market companies in strategically selected sectors that offer the potential to be transformed into local and regional industry champions, over a longer than usual ownership period.

Launched by the independent alternative asset manager, Capitalworks Group, is a US$300m fund, targeting institutional and professional investors across the continent.  The Fund, led by Joint Managing Partners, Beth Mandel and Nana Sao, will invest in financial services, agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing by deploying longer termed equity.

The general shallowness of African capital markets and the high cost of debt finance mean that Private Equity plays a central role in helping to unlock and grow the potential of individual companies and ecosystems.

Furthermore, mid-sized African enterprises struggle to raise the long-term capital they need to grow through the multiple phases of value creation to achieve enterprise growth and jobs.

The AfDB recognizes the significant imbalance between the supply of and demand for long-term capital in the rapidly growing and developing Sub-Sahara Africa economies and the mid-market companies within them and share ACWs’ thesis that longer-term capital offers a better way to address this imbalance.

The investment in Africa capital Works offers significant potential for development impact and helps advance the strategic agenda of the Bank’s High 5 priorities   with regards to Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, Feed Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

More specifically, the investment will support; the promotion of financial inclusion through offering affordable and improved financial services for the unbanked; gender and social benefits arising from support to smallholder farmers; private sector development through improved access to finance for mid-cap businesses; as well as enhance regional trade by investing in regional companies thereby facilitating their growth across countries and regions.

Africa Capital Works strategy is well aligned with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) as it contributes directly to achieving the Bank’s inclusive growth vision.  It promotes the Bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy (2013-2017) by developing growth oriented enterprises as well as the Bank’s Financial Sector Development Policy and Strategy (2014–2019) whose priority is to increase access to finance to the underserved and to deepen the financial market.

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Bharti Family Pledges 10% of Wealth To Philanthropy

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By peter oluka

The Bharti Family, which has built one of India’s leading business enterprises, today pledged a part of their personal wealth for philanthropic purposes.

The Family has decided to pledge 10% of their wealth, including 3% of their stake in group flagship Bharti Airtel, towards supporting the activities of Bharti Foundation, the Group’s philanthropic arm, one of the few professionally managed philanthropic bodies in India.

With this commitment, the Bharti Family envisions to significantly step up the scope and reach of Bharti Foundation’s activities, and further enable the Foundation to develop and execute innovative development models to support the aspirations of India’s underprivileged including students of Satya Bharti Schools.

Set up in the year 2000, Bharti Foundation has grown in scale and stature, and evolved well beyond customary cheque book philanthropy to design and implement innovative development models, particularly in the area of education.

Led by a full time CEO and COO, the Foundation’s team of over 200 highly motivated professionals and approx. 8000 teachers work across multiple programs in the areas of education of approx. 240,000 underprivileged children in rural India.

Bharti Foundation has also supported the creation of Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology & Management at IIT Delhi, Bharti Centre for Communication at IIT Mumbai and Bharti Institute of Public Policy at ISB Mohali.

The Foundation has also instituted a number of scholarship programs, the prominent being scholarship for Indian students studying at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Bharti Foundation is a leading contributor to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that is addressing the sanitation needs of poor households in the country.

The Foundation has built approx. 18,000 toilets in Punjab’s Ludhiana making it an Open Defecation Free (ODF) district benefitting approx. 90,000 people.  Bharti Foundation has now undertaken another similar initiative to make Amritsar District in Punjab ODF with a target to build 50,000 toilets in collaboration with the Punjab Government.

With this, Bharti will become the first corporate to facilitate ODF status for two districts in the country.

Announcing the commitment, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises and Chairman, Bharti Foundation, said, “Today is a major milestone in the journey of the Bharti Family. Being first generation entrepreneurs, we feel absolutely privileged that this nation gave us the opportunity to imagine and build world-class businesses. Bharti’s DNA has always been about creating a deep positive impact on society through our businesses, and we are proud to have contributed to the India growth story.”

“Firm believers in Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of Trusteeship, we have always reckoned that ownership of business is a social responsibility, and wealth creation cannot be an end in itself. Even when we were small in size and relatively modest with our business goals, we always aspired to be part of the wider nation building process.”

“We feel grateful every day for our good fortune and feel the instinctive and overwhelming urge to give back to the society and create opportunities for others. Bharti Foundation has done some exceptional work for uplifting the underprivileged and it stands out as a shining example of how professionally managed development arms of businesses can build innovative and sustainable models that make real and measurable difference on ground. We hope in the years and decades to come, Bharti Foundation will be able to unlock its full potential as a change agent and enable millions of fellow Indians fulfill their dreams.”

Today, Bharti Foundation also announced its plans to set up Satya Bharti University for Science and Technology to complement its existing programs in the area of education. The University will have a strong focus on future technologies like AI, Robotics, AR/VR, IoT, in addition to offering degrees in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and Management. It will be a non-profit centre of excellence and will offer free education to a large number of deserving youth from economically weaker sections.  It will also promote and fund advanced research with global linkages. It intends to add leading global industry partners, i.e. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and SoftBank among others.

Making the announcement, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice-Chairman, Bharti Enterprises and Co-Chairman, Bharti Foundation said, “Having built a successful model for primary and senior schooling under Satya Bharti Schools, Bharti Family plans to build Satya Bharti University – a world-class institution, to support the higher education aspirations of India’s youth. Our aspiration is to develop it into a centre of excellence not just in India but globally.”

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