Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Price drives SA laptop rentals

Increasing price pressure on laptops have resulted in more people delaying purchases or resorting to renting PCs, says a retailer.
“We, at The Notebook Company, are seeing pressure on our laptop sales. Tablet sales are also under increasing strain from the bigger format smartphones and from phablets, which are fast growing market share. But we are picking up the slack with laptop rentals,” said Christopher Riley, chief executive of The Notebook Company.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), currency fluctuations and lower resources prices are factors that have negatively impacted on laptop prices in Africa.
“Currency fluctuations both inside and outside the MEA region will remain largely responsible for the slower demand, particularly in key markets such as Turkey and Nigeria,” said Fouad Charakla, research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.
Laptop rentals now make up a significant percentage of turnover at The Notebook Company.
Rand weakness
“More and more companies are currently turning to rentals, with some bigger companies renting hundreds of laptops for certain periods. Rentals now account for 15% of our turnover, which has wiped out the dip in the sale of laptops,” Riley said.
IDC data showed that PCs declined by 25.6%, with notebooks suffering a 28.6% drop to 1.9 million units in the Middle East and Africa region.
The weakness of the rand, which has driven up laptop prices, has contributed to softening sales.
“Right now, with the continued weakness of the rand, I do not see an upside. It is going to hurt consumers and they may cut back on buying, which will hurt the local market,” said Riley.

Monday, 17 August 2015

SA users hit with e-mail scam

There is an e-mail scam hitting the South African marketplace at the moment, 
with fraudsters trying to dupe companies or individuals into allowing 
control of their e-mail in order to syphon money out of their accounts.
Christopher Riley, CEO of The Notebook Company, comments: “Lots of our clients 
are being hit by this scam; and from what I can make out there has been a quite a few successful money transfers into fraudsters’ accounts.”

An unsuspecting user receives a fraudulent e-mail, tries to open it, and gets “caught”
 to enter his username and password on the fraudster’s control Web page.

Riley says the cybercrook then has access to his email. They search his e-mail; 
pick up where he has sent a request for payment; and then e-mails the user and
 tell him to pay into another account.

These fraudulent accounts that they have paid into also have no direct link to 
the cyber-crime attacker. Instead there will be a batch of mule accounts where 
the money is transferred into. This also makes it extremely hard to track down the
 transactions and the perpetrators.

“From what I can gauge, there seems to be quite a substantial amount of money syphoned from people’s accounts already,” Riley says.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Warning over local Microsoft phone scam

Warning over local Microsoft phone scam

2015-07-08 13:21 - Gareth van Zyl

This photo taken with a fisheye lens shows Microsoft signage outside the Microsoft Visitor Centre in Redmond. (Ted S Warren, AP, file)

“Many users” in South Africa are receiving phone calls from these fraudsters, according to Christopher Riley who is the chief executive of laptop and accessories retailer The Notebook Company.Johannesburg - Fraudsters are masquerading as software company Microsoft in a telephone scam targeted at tricking consumers and companies out of thousands of rands.
Riley explained in a statement on Tuesday that these fraudsters pretend to be Microsoft officials who tell users that there is a problem with their PCs.
“Users often get duped into believing the caller and subsequently allow the caller remote access to their system. Key logging or similar software is then installed on a user’s system - unbeknown to the user,” said Riley
“Perpetrators then monitor the person doing their day-to-day work, including banking activities.
“There are also cases of these cyber crooks actually transferring people’s money, or changing people’s banking details in emails so that people pay money into the perpetrator’s accounts inadvertently,” said Riley.
Riley further said the extent of the scam is unknown at this stage.
Microsoft responds
Meanwhile, Fin24 on Tuesday asked software giant Microsoft to respond to questions about this alleged scam.
Microsoft has subsequently, in a statement, issued a warning to the public about the scam.
According to Microsoft, the scammers use public phone directories as information gathering sources on consumers “in an effort to convince clients that they can be trusted”.
Microsoft said that, in addition, these callers also claim to be from the Windows Helpdesk, Windows Service Centre, Microsoft Tech Support, Microsoft Support, Windows Technical Department Support Group or even Microsoft’s Research and Development Team.
The scammers then claim the user has a computer problem, infection or virus that has been detected by Microsoft.
“In reality, the scammer only tricked unsuspecting consumers into believing that there is a problem and that paying a fee would be the best way to sort the issues out,” said Ashleigh Fenwick, Microsoft South Africa’s public relations and communications manager.
“Often they will also push clients to purchase a one year computer maintenance subscription,” said Fenwick.
Fenwick further said that Microsoft will not cold call consumers and the company is urging users to not purchase software or services over the phone, and to never authorise remote control over a PC to a third party.
Fenwick also urged consumers not to give their credit card details over the phone and to call police if they encounter the scammers

Monday, 25 May 2015

Expect to pay more for laptops as the rand weakens

Picture credit: THINKSTOCK 

The price of laptops in South Africa could rise as the rand continues to weaken against major international currencies, a retailer says
“The Notebook Company has been forced to up its prices this year. Due to the weakness of the rand against the dollar each shipment of computer goods needs to be considered to see if a price hike is required.  We don’t see the rand improving any time soon, so the prices of certain computer products will remain considerably higher than last year,” said Christopher Riley, CEO of The Notebook Company.
Riley added that the price of laptops and accessories had increased by 15% in recent years to make up for the falling local currency.
Over the past two years, the rand has depreciated from around R9.55/$1 to R11.94 on Monday. The price fluctuation hits retailers as most computer hardware in SA is imported.
“Some computer stock is flown in, and some is shipped in. When products are flown in, it is easy for vendors to adjust their prices timeously. But when they are shipped in the prices can be affected while the products are still at sea, meaning that computer vendors cannot always foresee higher costs,” Riley said.
He added that retailers often have to absorb squeezed profit margins as a result of these unforeseen price fluctuations.
“Vendors, in these instances, have to take a price knock until adjusting prices for the next shipment.”
The increase in price has seen sales stall as consumers decline to buy new laptops or delay purchases until the next version of Windows is officially launched.
The Notebook Company said that sales in the first three months of the year were flat compared to the same period in 2014. The depreciation has also had an impact on smartphone prices, forcing consumers to consider what they want versus what they can afford. Contract prices of premium phones have been trending upward from around R370 per month two years ago to around R500 this year.
“We do our best to mitigate against the weaker rand, primarily by leveraging Vodafone’s global purchasing strength. Having said that, any weakness in the rand does tend to translate into higher prices for the big name devices,” Vodacom executive head of media relations and social media Richard Boorman told Fin24recently.
But some manufacturers have seized the opportunity to offer lower-cost devices in an expanding mobile market. Companies like Huawei, Lenovo, Hisense and local player Mobicel have realised that cost is a major factor and market smartphones in SA directly at people who value affordability.
Data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that smartphone growth hit a record 83% in the Middle East and Africa region, but price was a critical factor. Phones priced between $100 and $200 (R1 200 and R2 400) saw the largest surge in market share.
“Many new vendors have been eager to get into the region’s burgeoning smartphone space, with a number of them launching phones in this growing price band,” said Nabila Popal, IDC’s research manager for handsets and display solutions in the Middle East and Africa.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

What would you pay for an Apple Watch?

How much would you be willing to pay for an Apple Smart watch? Would you pay R10 750 or R13 000? That is exactly what a South African paid for an aluminium and stainless steel piece respectively recently.
Offered on with a price tag of R9 000 and R11 000, the proud South African willingly paid for the exclusivity of owning the two brand new watches.
While the watch is set to take the world by storm,  there are some “dilemmas” with the gadgets and wearing them may not be as straight forward as some imagined. It appears as if a number of people’s high acidity levels have caused unwelcome skin reactions.
Apple’s website, although admitting to some problems, was also quick to point out that the device has been examined by certified dermatologists and users may be wearing it wrong.
In addition, apparently, some heart rate readings of tattooed consumers could potentially affect and play havoc with the smart watch’s mechanism, and social media sites were quick to pick up on the case with the hashtag #tattoogate as many frustrated consumers vented their annoyance.
Despite these hiccups, South Africans may overlook first generation flaws and purchase the device regardless.
“Apple loyalists are naturally going to love the smart watch. The watch’s release again represents a chance for Apple to change the world, again, with an industry-defining product,” said Christopher Riley, CEO of The Notebook Company.
The watch, not yet released in South Africa, has no local price tag or forthcoming launch date as yet. You can find the two bidorbuy listings here and here.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Tablet users to top 1bn this year

While the tablet market is cooling off from its highs of the past four years, more than 1-billion people worldwide will use a tablet in 2015.This is the word from Christopher Riley, CEO of The Notebook Company, who says: “While tablet sales accounted for more than half of The Notebook Company’s turnover from 2011-2013, we are now focusing on the sale of laptops – and we expect tablet sales to drop to around 10% of our sales during 2015.”

According to new figures from eMarketer, the 1-billion figure represents nearly 15% of the global population and more than double the number three years ago. By 2018, the number of tablet users in the world will reach 1,43-billion.

One of the key points raised by eMarketer is that the growth in the number of global tablet users will slow dramatically in 2015 – and continue to “taper off”. The total number of tablet users is expected to increase by 17.1% this year.

While this figure is still relatively robust, it is a long way behind year-over-year gains of 54,1% in 2013 and 29,1% in 2014. By 2018, the growth rate for new tablet users worldwide is expected to be just 7,9%.

Riley says that, during 2011 to 2013, tablet sales outstripped laptop sales at The Notebook Company. “We became one of the largest sellers of Apple iPads in SA during this period – as there was a strong demand from our users, something which was exacerbated by a shortage of stock. But our focus has now shifted back to the sale of laptops.”

He says the company is expecting an increase of 10% to 15% in laptop sales for the 2015 calendar year, compared to last year.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Paperless education ‘unlikely to succeed’

Paperless education ‘unlikely to succeed’

The Gauteng Education department’s plan to introduce a paperless education programme is ill-conceived, as there will simply not be enough funds to provide each pupil with a tablet or a laptop, says Christopher Riley, CEO of The Notebook Company.

Riley’s comments follow yesterday’s statement from Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who said a number of schools in Tembisa are set to pilot a paperless education programme. 
He said the school would receive state-of-the-art Internet connections at no expense to government. The schools were also supplied with tablets and training to conduct lessons online.

“It is noble attempt, but I just don’t see how the government can afford all the tablets. Most students’ parents will certainly not be able to pay for tablets or laptops,” says Riley.

All text books are available online but, again, students need to own a laptop or tablet – as well as have an Internet connection – to access them.

“Introducing a paperless education system would certainly help to end the embarrassing non-delivery of school textbooks which have been plaguing the country for some time now. But it remains an unobtainable goal simply due to the cost of implementation. This could be summed up as a case of covering the problem of textbook delivery, rather than finding a solution,” he adds.