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Shapshak’s First Rule of Dropped Calls: the caller calls back.

Dear People of Twitter, Please listen carefully: it’s not interesting, neither is it funny, when you read out the little witticisms that you’ve just tweeted. Or that someone has tweeted to you. Or SMSed, for that matter. It doesn’t translate from text to speech. It’s just not as funny. Really, it isn’t. This is the key sentiment of Shapshak’s First Theorem on Us...[Read More]

Goodbye 8ta, heita Telkom Mobile

What’s in a name? Everything as Telkom has discovered after wasting tens of millions of Rands in launching the 8ta network which has merely created an additional, illogical brand which Telkom itself – albeit despised by the majority of its own trapped landline users – has been forced to admit with this week’s rebranding to Telkom Mobile. Launched with great fanfare three years ago, 8ta...[Read More]

Vodacom unlimited

After numerous failed attempts to kickstart the great cellular price war have fizzled out into mere skirmishes, there might finally be a significant shift. We might actually have a price war on our hands. Vodacom, which has often been accused of having unnecessarily complex pricing plans, has unveiled a new pricing structure that is vastly simplified. Crucially, it even offers unlimited calling ac...[Read More]

Five years in which the world changed

“Our job as columnists is to throw bricks through windows,” that veritable old man of letters Chris Moerdyk told me when I first started writing this column nearly six years ago. Moerdyk, and the then Times editor Ray Hartley, urged me to say the provocative things that needed to be said. Chris never had to suffer the grey hairs I gave Ray, and Phylicia Oppelt later on. This is, unfort...[Read More]

Knott-Craig in shining armour

“What are you going to do with [faster data on] LTE? You can’t speak any faster,” Alan Knott-Craig, the combative CEO of Cell C, told the AfricaCom conference in Cape Town last week, arguing for cheaper data costs. “We need to be talking not 5c a meg but 5c a gig,” he said, to applause. Though megabytes were once the most apt measurement of data usage, Knott-Craig arg...[Read More]

Teen dynamos reshape Africa

Standing on top of the windmill tower he built, holding onto the recycled bicycle parts, William Kamkwamba is one of greatest inventors in Africa. He shot to prominence in 2006 when he built a windmill in his home town of Masitala, in Malawi. Unable to finish school in 2002 because his family couldn’t afford the fees, Kamkwamba, then 15, discovered a book in his local library on electricity....[Read More]

Sinking with the Titanic Telkom

The most damage done to South Africa’s telecoms landscape was caused, it is generally agreed, by the protectionist policies of Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, whose nickname, “Poison Ivy”, was most apt. Until this week that is, when her successor as communications minister, Dina Pule, behaved with such inexplicable weirdness that it takes government meddling to a new nadir. At the Telkom ...[Read More]

Demo Africa a perfect launch pad

A cellphone game that teaches you about the dangers of malaria by swatting mosquitos from Nigeria . a mobile recruitment site for blue-collar workers in Ghana. A shopping portal that enables Kenyan craftswomen to sell their jewellery online . an Egyptian project that lets youngsters create their own TV content . South African technology that automates complex computer processes in the cloud. These...[Read More]

Microsoft strikes back

Microsoft is about to enter a new era this week with the release of the latest version of its Windows software. At stake is a lot more than just a new operating system for desktop computers. Microsoft has dominated the computer industry for three decades, its Windows running the overwhelming majority of computers – first desktops and then laptops. As they say in the Highlander film: There ca...[Read More]

Launch of new high-speed technology a big advance

By launching LTE, the latest development in faster cellphone networking, before most European countries, South Africa is ahead of the continent it generally follows. So what, you might ask. Faster cellphone networks are not much use, you might argue, when the costs of using them are still so high. But the shift to LTE, the buzz for long-term evolution, or 4G, represents a sea change of significant...[Read More]

A year without genius of Jobs

A year after the death of Steve Jobs, the enigmatic boss of Apple, that poster child of innovation continues to dominate the headlines. Is Apple a better company with or without Jobs? How does his successor, Tim Cook, compare? Is Apple going to run out of ideas when the projects Jobs was working on are completed? Jobs has been compared to Ford, Edison and Tesla – empire-building men who chan...[Read More]

Common sense ‘not available’

Logic – there is so little of it in the world today. For instance, Pat Lambie is the best flyhalf in South Africa and he languishes on the bench as a reserve fullback. Heyneke Meyer, who is trying to give me angina, clearly lacks an appreciation of logic. Of course, this is just a fancy way of writing about rugby in a business column – but if Peter Delmar can get away with it without b...[Read More]

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