Like many regions encumbered with limited fixed broadband infrastructure, the Middle East is increasingly using mobile connectivity to drive adoption of advanced internet-based services. Among the many wealthy Gulf states looking to take the next step with 5G, the UAE and Dubai in particular stand out. Local provider du recently announced its first 5G network will land as early as this year. Continue reading
Tag Archives: technology
“We prefer to stay outdoors.” Some cultural norms will never change, and locking up a Spaniard in his own high-tech smart home, the new digital castle for an Englishman, is not intrinsically attractive. “You have to understand that we like to go out, socialise, see our friends, and do not invest so much in our homes as you do in the UK.”
So is there a future for smart home in Spain? Continue reading
Has Russia become a nation of gaming fanatics? At first look it appears so: CONTEXT figures from the graphics card market show growth of 250% year-on-year in distribution sales for Q1 2018. That’s an increase of €7m to €30m to reach second in Europe behind Germany.
These figures came after an already strong 2017 year for graphics cards across Europe. The market grew by 90% year-on-year for Q1 2018, according to our distribution sales-out data. Nvidia GTX 10 series sales account for 75% of the European year-on-year market growth and Asus has the vendor top spot. Power, performance enhancements and new features have caught the eye of consumers, who waited a relatively long time to change out their older graphics cards as previous 800 and 900 series for Nvidia disappointed in terms of real gains.
But this isn’t the whole story.
A crypto-mining revolution
While graphics cards are a key component in gaming PCs, they’re also vital to the mining of crypto-currency. Can you guess which country is embracing crypto-mining with great enthusiasm? That’s right, Russia.
The truth is that mining for digital currency is an intensive task requiring large amounts of energy to power computers and cool machines. In fact, the process globally now consumes the same amount of electricity every year (33TWh) as Denmark, according a one recent report. Russia is at an advantage in having a cold climate in many parts of the country, plus cheap energy: ideal conditions to build farms of graphics cards to mine crypto-currency.
This isn’t necessarily being done by private enterprises and entrepreneurs with an eye for a quick buck. State-run bank Sberbank recently admitted buying a huge number of graphics cards, even apologising for the shortage which caused prices to double. Russia certainly wouldn’t be the first nation state to embark on a crypto-mining spree to swell its state coffers: North Korea is also said to be investing significant resources into operations in order to skirt international sanctions, although many of its efforts are said to be illegal, relying on botnets of compromised computers to mine currency.
In fact, most of the European markets have seen triple digit-growth in graphics card revenue on the back of rising crypto-currency valuations. So how is the market responding?
Last year we saw the launch of a new “mining” series of graphics cards tailored specifically to this new use case. However, interest has been disappointing and we’ve not seen anything in our distribution sales-out numbers to compare to the growth of standard models. The GTX 1060 and 1070 remain the number one cards for crypto-mining in their power/price combination.
It will be interesting to see how the market evolves this year. Clearly, graphics cards makers believe there is some mileage in developing tailored solutions for the new crypto-mining market, and will be disappointed to see how little impact they’ve made early on. Some will argue they shouldn’t change a winning formula. But either way we’re likely to see some stronger marketing efforts for the new “mining” series going forward.
We meet in Berlin, in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, archetype of 20th Century history, with its memories of terrible conflicts but also the place of a remarkable peace which flowered in the ruins of the grim wall. Are we still in the war of technology retail? Or are we establishing a peace where the key players across the industry lay down their arms and look for ways to collaborate, and build an enduring omnichannel retail space in Europe?
Collaboration has been an important theme of the TCG Summit in the last 5 years. It is an aspiration waiting to be turned into reality. Alessandro Stanzani of Canon gave an impassioned plea for more data sharing – he gave statistics showing that 51% of online shoppers leave the Canon website and head straight for a retailer. If the manufacturer and retailer shared this customer information, the retailer could welcome the arrival on their website with a Canon banner, prepared and ready with precious browsing information from the customer’s previous online visit. This model exists already – it is called Amazon. As Henk de Jong, EVP at Philips put it “Amazon teaches us that data sharing is an important practice which we should do.” However, the internet giant has an advantage of being an integrated company, whereas retailers and manufacturers are frenemies. They collaborate most of the time, but in those activities where they compete – manufacturer online sales being the most flagrant example – the trust disappears and the motivation to build a powerful technology ecosystem withers.
Small trust building projects is the way forward. This is the Amazon approach – innovate quickly, assess and then progress. Some retailers retort that, before they share data, they need consistent support from all suppliers. This may happen, but it won’t happen quickly enough and by that time, the innovation and acceleration which were the themes of the conference, will have eaten up more traditional retailers who have not adapted fast enough to the new realities. As Enrique Martinez, CEO of Fnac Darty said in his opening remarks “yes, there will be more consolidation of retailers in the market.”
“Let’s start with sharing product availability data,” was the suggestion of Rick Londema, SVP at Sony Europe. “By sharing data there is so much space to gain cash and optimise inventory.”
Some are already collaborating with different partners to combine datasets, as mentioned by Helmar Hipp, CEO of Cyberport, the German etailer who are “using data and algorithms to predict customer trends.”
Chen Zhang, the CTO of China’s JD.com, the third largest internet retailer in the world, stretched our horizons beyond Europe and reminded us how digitally advanced the Chinese are. He shared JD’s progress in unmanned warehouses, customised manufacturing, dynamic pricing, drones and even delivery robots. And returning to the theme of collaboration – by working closely and sharing data with Nestle, they have reduced delivery times from 5-8 days to 2-3 days and increased on-shelf availability from 73% to 95%.
As in previous years, the TCG Summit has the power to surprise, motivate and enthuse its attendees about the future of technology retail. Martin Wild, a relative newcomer to the industry (Chief Innovation Officer of MediaMarktSaturn since 2011) resonated with urgency and a call to action to innovate and accelerate. “We are just at the beginning of change – we have to be open to transform everything in order to remain relevant.” And he proceeded to show us the depth of innovation at MediaMarktSaturn – from renting products to customers as part of the shared economy and outsourcing this to a 3rd party, piloting AR (70% of customers in the pilot said they liked it and wanted more), and building collaboration with other retailers (notably Schwarz group) to invest in start-ups for smart retail technology.
The future of technology retail is indeed to innovate in order to accelerate, but also to collaborate – this means sticking to your knitting – “the biggest instore experience is through the motivation of the 6,000 people who work in Fnac now” said Enrique Martinez. But it also means investment as MediaMarktSaturn is doing, all this against a background of Amazon’s spend of $18bn on IT and $27bn on R&D, and similar or maybe even greater sums by the Chinese retailers.
At CONTEXT we’ve seen consumer awareness of smart home products across Europe slowly start to take off over the past 18 months. That’s why the launch into the market of Wi-Fi Mesh systems last year seemed like a smart move, designed as they are to enhance Wi-Fi coverage for internet-connected gadgets around the home.
However, this hasn’t quite proven to be the case. It’s not the consumer but the corporate space which appears to be showing most interest. Continue reading
Distribution is dead? The provocative catch phrase spoken by CEO of the GTDC – Tim Curran in his opening speech at the recent inaugural GTDC APAC meeting in Singapore.
It was clear by the end of Tim’s presentation that the state of distribution is quite the contrary and that distribution is thriving more than ever before. He spoke of the continued acceleration in the advancement of technology, the shift towards Cloud and the as-a-service model bringing with it annuity income and a host of different opportunities; that value-added services now define distribution and simple box moving is not enough anymore. It was like a group of paparazzi had descended on the room when Tim presented his slide on over 42 value added services that distributors can and should have in their repertoire.
The event was attended by senior executives from major regional distributors including: SiS, Innovix, Ingram Micro, Westcon-Comstor, TechData, Arrow ECS, Synnex & Compuage Infocom with many of the top Vendor brands present there too. There was no shortage of discussions, interest and a willingness to learn and share information and experiences.
I think that most attending would agree that the panel discussion hosted by Peter van den Berg (GM GTDC EMEA & APAC) was a highlight, senior executives from Compuage Infocom, Huawei, Ingram Micro, Red Hat and Westcon-Comstor commented on the most common misunderstandings between distributors and vendors and how to minimize pain points.
The group’s agreement covered the following important points:
- The Enterprise space is growing at a rapid rate and vendors are asking distribution to do more,
- End point device distribution is still important but more so the pre-sales, post-sales and training offerings provided,
- The 2-tier distribution model is under immense pressure and traditional IT resellers need to adapt to survive – therefore enablement & training is key whilst also looking to new partners and how to better serve them.
It was the first GTDC APAC summit – CONTEXT is proud to have been associated with the event, and we look forward to many more, and to the growth of the GTDC presence in this region.
In this latest post, CEO and co-founder Jeremy Davies reflects on the IT infrastructure challenges during the first few years at CONTEXT.
One of the reasons why working at CONTEXT in the early days was exciting, was that our work combined the business side with deep interest in emerging PC technologies. Balancing budgets and wanting to keep ahead of the curve was both challenging and fun. Continue reading