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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What technologies can we expect to see in the UAE in 2011?

With the year coming to a close, we've certainly seen one of the most exhilarating years from a technology perspective for a long time.

Whether it the flood of Apple iPad's that made their way to the UAE or the Blackberry fiasco that ensued in the late summer, there has certainly been a lot to captivate our interest in 2010.  As we look forward to 2011, the question arises, what do we expect the crystal ball to show us?

After much thought, we at Jacky's decided to take our stab at listing out a few trends we expect to take shape in 2011:

1. The introduction of Skype (officially)
This is a bold prediction but surely long overdue.  Skype is being used in the UAE whether endorsed officially or not but with Skype now being available on the iPhone (and no doubt rolling out onto other smartphone OS platforms in the future), we expect to see more people using it.  The TRA has said that VoIP can start provided one of the local service providers introduces it and we hope to see one of them tie up with Skype  in 2011.  This would not only mean lower calling costs but also more ways to keep in touch and the introduction of more video-conferencing in corporate and consumer environments.

2. Tablet Wars
Had we used this term in 2009, it may have sounded like we're talking about a pharmaceutical industry battle but today it comes down to seeing what sort of tablet PC's we see coming in 2011 from the likes of Acer, Dell, Blackberry, HP, Samsung, LG and Sony.  What screen size will dominate?  How many cameras will it have?  What OS will be better? With all the questions around, the bigger question is how will these new tablets compete with what Apple does with their next generation iPad?  It could come down to being Apple vs. the rest.

3. Dual-Core smartphones
Just like we've seen in mainstream laptop technology, we could see dual-core processor smartphones in 2011.  While there is no doubt there will be much more powerful stuff our smartphones will be doing, the question remains, will battery technology keep up with this as this seems to be the limiting factor thus far.

4. The Introduction of Google's Android Market
Again, this has been a luxury of the world seems to have had except the UAE and Saudi Arabia.  For some strange reason, Google has decided to block Market here and this meant that you don't enjoy the true Android experience here officially.  A smartphone these days is only as good as the Apps you find on it and hopefully we see the Google App store makes it way soon to an Android smartphone near us.

5. Smartphone OS Wars
This will be a continuation we've seen in 2010 which has largely been in our region an Apple vs. Blackberry battle with a spattering of Android phones.  However, in 2011, we'll see probably a more concerted threat from the Android camp with the launch of the Android 3.0 OS (codenamed "Gingerbread") plus we should see more movement from the Microsoft camp with Windows Phone 7 and HP / Palm's WebOS platforms.  It'll be interesting to see how RIM continues with the Blackberry OS and what role QNX plays (QNX is an OS manufacturer that RIM acquired in 2010 which has been largely integral to providing the OS software to the automobile industry and who RIM seems to be relying on for their PlayBook tablets).  Windows Phone 7 could be the dark horse of 2011 as it seems to have picked up on the positive points of Android and Apple iOS but looks set to avoid the negative points of both platforms.  With many feeling Apple has been somewhat dictatorial of late, Microsoft is starting to again like the blue-eyed boy of the industry and with Android struggling to maintain standards in terms of processor specs, screen sizes, etc., Microsoft has been working much more closely with handset manufacturers to maintain a certain set of standards that could work to their advantage.  Microsoft also having a strong presence in the UAE may help them as neither Google or Apple have had a full-fledged setup till now (though both promise to start soon enough).

6. e-Print / Wireless Printing
HP has been championing the e-Print technology wherein you can print from your tablet or smartphone directly onto your printer by sending a file as an e-mail to your printer.  At the same time, various wireless printing solutions have also started emerging in 2010 and we expect many of these to go mainstream in 2011.  HP have already said e-Print is an integral part of the strategy for next year and we can expect to see it in virtually most of their new product introductions.  The paperless office may be a fallacy if these technologies continue to thrive.

7. Wireless Audio / Video Streaming
Apple showed us a hint of this with their AirPlay technology and brands like Acer have also been working on something similar.  How we end up watching and listening to our digital media is surely changing and as content distribution models evolve, we expect to see more wireless audio and video streaming technologies to start coming as standard features in many of our traditional home consumer electronics products from brands like Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic.

8. More Casual Gaming
With Microsoft launching Kinect in 2010, we've seen the future of gaming for sure.  Now put this in 3D and we could be seeing the future.  However, the bigger market at the moment seems to be the advent of casual gaming.  Chances are most of the busy executives you see carrying an iPhone or an iPad these days, have a lot of games on their devices as well which they play when sitting on a plane or while waiting around.  Would these people have been the type you would've expected to see playing games a few years ago?  Probably not but with games like Angry Birds (which is primarily available on the iPhone and iPad) crossing the 50,000,000 user-mark in 2010, we can expect to see more hardcore game developers jumping onto the casual gaming bandwagon in 2011, especially with so many other smartphone and tablet OS options also gaining popularity.

In addition to this, we do expect to see many other categories to prosper in 2011.  Whether it be the LCD television segment (more LED and 3D technologies), the introduction of more hybrid netbooks (netbooks with touch-screens so they also start imitating a tablet somewhat), the launch of Google's Chrome OS for tablet's and netbook computers and more within the space of content distribution.

Whatever it is, 2011 is surely expected to keep us busy.

Posted by: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics LLC

Thursday, 23 December 2010

As we upgrade our phones more often, we need to recycle more often...

We've all seen it happen around us.

A new phone gets released and your mind says you want it.  You see everyone around you with it and you know you can't wait.  Before long, you have it.

Now imagine how often this has started happening.  As prices and technologies have evolved, the length of time the average consumer uses a phone has been dropping.  It doesn't matter if the phone still works, it's now old, unfashionable and uses an older operating system that isn't cool to use anymore.

Don't worry, you're not the only one who's been trapped in this cycle and as a consumer electronics retailer we're glad to have you as our customer.

However, the question arises, if you're buying your phones more often, then what do you end up doing with your old phones? Are more and more of them sitting in a drawer or handed down? Chances are if they end up in a drawer, they normally end up in a bin some day. If they're handed down, then they're most likely replacing the phone that the recipient was using till then so what happens with that phone?

There are various dangers to disposing of phones when we simple bin them.  The typical mobile phone that ends up in a landfill contains the following toxic chemicals:

  • arsenic (used in some semiconductors)
  • brominated compounds (used as flame retardants)
  • lead (used in the solder that attaches components to circuit boards)
In fact, the matter has been something that even the United Nations has felt compelled to discuss at their meetings.  

If you can do one good deed this festive season, it is to look around, gather all those old phones and take them in for recycling with the retailer or recycler of your choice.  

At Jacky's, we do have our Jacky's Eco-Exchange program, but do feel free to see where you'd like to recycle your phones and let's start educating those around us.  The more awareness we create, the better off we can all be.

If you have a chance, these links may also be visited which helped me in preparing for this post.

Posted by: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics LLC

Saturday, 18 December 2010

What's the fuss about recycling your mobile phone?

Recently at Jacky's, we started a mobile phone recycling program called Jacky's Eco-Exchange and we announced we'll be giving away an iPad to one lucky winner this month for recycling their mobile phone at Jacky's.

While this does no doubt help us at Jacky's generate footfall, the main reason behind us starting this program was to start raising awareness about the dangers of disposing of electronic products irresponsibly.

While all of us are probably guilty of throwing some of our old gadgets in the bin, there has probably been few options available to us in the UAE for recycling our products even if we wanted to.  For many people coming from countries like the UK where it is now mandatory to recycle your electronic products, it amazes them that such regulations have sadly been lacking here in the UAE.

Another major factor why we haven't seen this here really has been education.  Overall awareness about the dangers of what happens to your electronic products once they're thrown into a landfill is not really something most of us know about.

Internally at Jacky's, we're starting to educate our own sales staff, customer service staff and hopefully the message reaches our customers and the community at large on the benefits of recycling.  As members of the community, we felt we had a responsibility to do our bit in whatever small way we could.

As tools like this Blog develop, we'll start talking more about the dangers of throwing electronic products in a landfill in our effort to create more awareness.  Hopefully for every phone we receive, we save one more phone from reaching a landfill where it'll leak toxic substances into our environment.  Fortunately for us we've tied up with a partner who has a zero-landfill policy.

For now we're only offering services for recycling mobile phones but will be rolling this out to other product categories shortly, so stay tuned and do your little bit to support the environment as a responsible member of the community.

Posted By:
Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics