Everything You Need to Know about Google’s Latest Products (Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Buds)

We know Google as a search engine and a global marketing platform. Did you know Google sells hardware too?

In the latest hardware event, Google unveiled new smartphones, that is, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. We will discuss the specs of the two phones shortly but the company is big on competing with the world’s tech giants.

In addition to the smartphones, the Company announced new laptops and smart home devices.

Why announce new products at the close of the year, you ask? Well, we are headed to the Christmas season. The world goes into a shopping craze during the holiday.

Let us now look at the new products that Google released into the market

Smartphones: Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

How would you like to take a clear picture of the stars at night? Have you ever tried that with your smartphone? We bet you did not like the output!

Google’s Pixel 4 enables you to get a clear picture of the Milkyway.  It has a powerful night camera not to mention the normal day-camera.

The company’s initial target market is the US. Buyers will thank Google for having this phone on during a car crash. The phone has a unique feature that detects a car crash.

It will automatically dial 911 when this feature is activated. That means the owner gets immediate medical attention.

Here is another feature that smartphone users will love. Google included a detection feature for gestures. Pixel 4 has the fastest face unlock, which competes with other phones in the market with such features.

With the radar detection, you can make a gesture in the air and the device will immediately unlock. You can also swipe in the air to move from one app to another.

The main difference between Pixel 4 and XL is the size. Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3 inch screen display while the normal Pixel 4 has 5.7 inch display.

The manufacturer has gone a step further to include 90hz display. Such a display prolongs the device’s battery life.

Another advantage of this new display is that it makes scrolling smoother and easier compared to the traditional display. You can turn the display on and off as you desire.

Google has made the new phones more accessible to buyers than previous Pixel models. For previous models, buyers had to unlock them from vendors including Google or from Verizon.

The new smartphones will be accessible through all the major carriers in the US. Are you curious about the price?

We know you are! The new Pixel 4 will start from $799.

Pixelbook Go

Google has explored the market for laptops alongside other hardware. In the event, the company introduced a new version of its Pixelbook laptop.

You can expect improved features every time a manufacturer has a new version of the same device. The new Pixelbook Go is lighter than the original version.

In addition, the bottom design gives you a better grip on the laptop. It has a longer battery life (12 hours). Yes, you read right, it is 12 hours.

Pause for a moment and consider the battery life of your current laptop. Can you work with it all day without charging?

Other improvements on the laptop include a magnesium casing and a larger 13.3-inch diplay.

The price of Pixelbook Go starts at $649.

Pixel Buds

Google introduced new Pixel Buds in the event. They will be available in the market in 2020. Music lovers will enjoy these Buds because of their amazing features include the wireless design.

Google introduced a previous version of the same buds that were connected through a wire. The new buds are completely wireless, so you can forget about tangled wires.

Look out for its adaptive sound technology. What does that mean?

You do not need to adjust the volume every time you change your environment. The Pixel Buds will automatically increase or reduce the volume to suit your environment.

The buds have a spatial vent design, which protects you from clogged ears. If you have used headphone for a long time, you know the irritation in your ears.

Google has boosted the speakers to improve the output and updated the sensors as well. However, the buds are still light to carry around.

Another feature we need to mention here is the long-range for the Bluetooth connection. You can enjoy the music on your headphones even when you move further from your device.

Nest Home Devices

Google has a Nest package of smart home products. The products in this package that have improvements include the Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus.

The coverage for both programs has expanded. The updates will be available to Nest customers in the coming year.

Google has upgraded the Nest Wifi routers with 25% more coverage. The routers are faster than the previous routers. Starting November, customers can now choose between a 2 pack or 3 pack of the new routers.

The Nest Mini is also brand new with better speakers.

Stadia

Google did not leave gaming fans behind this year. Stadia is a service that enables users to stream their favourite video games.

The stream services started with a cloud feature earlier this year. Starting November 2019, you can use Stadia to stream video games to Google’s devices such as Chromebooks.

The streaming service comes with a special controller and retails at $9.99 per month.

A free take-home lesson

You define the limits for the growth and expansion of your business. Google started with answering search queries. It is the leading search engine in the world.

Millions of website and business owners rely on Google to reach their customers.

Today, Google is competing with top brands for mobile phones, laptops, and smart devices. Do not limit your business to one niche. Explore related niches.

We can also learn the need to keep updating products, including well-performing products.

The global competition is too steep for a company to maintain the same version of a product for years. Product development must be part of your business growth strategy.

Sportpesa, Betin, and Little Shuttle Exit: Is Kenya Ready for Digital Disruption?

Kenyans have been following closely the battle between the government and betting companies since new taxation and licensing laws were introduced.

It is no secret that many young Kenyans are now addicted to gambling.

The announcement by Sportpesa and Betin was a blow to betting fans, not to mention their employees.

Both companies have had a rough journey since the government suspended their licences due to taxation issues.

Sportpesa termed the Kenyan market as a hostile environment to do business.

Kenyans have differing opinions on the exit. Some feel that the betting fever is out of control and so the exit is beneficial.

Another category is crying out for the thousands of jobs lost when the companies halt their operations in Kenya.

SWVL and Little Shuttle

Government regulation has hit the two hailing companies hard as well.

The National Transport and Safety Authority  (NTSA) says that the two companies have been operating without valid PSV licences.

Consequently, their operations were suspended starting October 1, 2019, until they acquire PSV licences.

SWVL and Little Shuttle have been offering relief to Nairobians from the chaotic matatu industry.

If you commute to and from work every day, you can attest to the madness on the roads.

If you are not stuck in traffic, you are struggling to get a ride home or to work.

Should we mention the occasional strikes that force Kenyans to walk miles to work?

Commonalities

One thing to note about the three companies that are exiting the Kenyan market is their investment in digital technology.

The giants embraced the advantages that mobile apps offer in different sectors.

Sportpesa and Betin have been among the largest players in the betting industry.

We recently featured the two as part of the betting companies with the best betting apps in the country and beyond.

Also Read: The List is here! Top betting apps in Kenya (2019)

Many players have joined the industry following their footsteps.

Kenyans have had multiple options for betting apps and websites because the two companies set a high standard in the industry.

Gambling is not a new trade. There are casinos all over the major cities in the country.

Betting websites have been there for decades. However, the introduction of betting apps has disrupted the betting industry.

Betting companies have developed apps with a simple interface and easy language.

In Kenya, integrating mobile payments such as Mpesa and Airtel Money into the apps made betting easier.

The bus sharing companies, Little Shuttle and SWVL enable commuters to book a comfortable shuttle via an app.

Instead of queuing at bus stops and crowded bus stations, commuters can book a ride when they are to move from point A to B.

The fares are slightly higher than the fares charged by ordinary matatus. However, the companies target travellers that own personal cars but need public transport occasionally.

With the new regulation that NTSA imposed, the hailing services may fall into the category of normal matatus.

Image: Pulse

Is Kenya ready for digital disruption?

The need to control the betting craze makes some sense. In fact, some Kenyans have welcomed the Sportpesa, Betin exit despite the job losses.

However, the move by the government on the taxi app companies raises some questions. Were we prepared for the effect of digital technologies?

Taxi apps have already disrupted the transport industry. In the past, Kenyans would negotiate for taxi services with drivers.

Today, you can use Uber, Taxify, Little Cab, inDriver and any other taxi app to book a cheap taxi ride.

Mobile apps such as Glovo have also disrupted logistics and delivery companies. You just need an app to order a meal, shop for groceries, or buy any item you need online and get it at your doorstep.

You do not need to call a delivery company for that.

Think about banking, which was a headache for such a long time.

You can access your bank account and transact using your bank’s mobile app.

Do we need to revisit the popularity of mobile loan apps that have taken over the lending space in Kenya?

Apps have replaced the long documentation process that was associated with a loan application.

Also Read: Why are Instant Loans Popular in Kenya Despite Metropol CRB Listings?

The impact of social apps on business and communication is phenomenon. Businesses now rely on social media to stay in touch with clients.

Social apps and bots have replaced emails and calls in most industries.

The big question is, were we ready for this disruption?

Is the move by the government to tax digital companies an indication of our unpreparedness to deal with the effects of digital technologies?

The reality is that imposing heavy taxation on such companies that embraced new technologies is a blow to innovation.

New players are now hesitant to join the industries until the tax rows and licensing issues are resolved.

Players in the real estate, housing, education, and agricultural sector have had to keep up with the latest technologies to stay relevant.

Were the arms of government prepared for such disruptive technological changes?

Moving forward

It is impossible to control the digital disruption across industries. Technological innovation cannot be stopped because of its benefits.

The good thing is that it is possible to observe trends and anticipate their impact on the economy.

Kenyans are innovative. However, most of the disruptive trends start from developed countries.

Betting and bus sharing apps were established in developed countries long before the players entered the Kenyan market.

The government has an obligation to control the business environment and ensure that players pay the taxes due according to Taxation laws.

However, it is prudent for the government to bring up such issues when issuing licenses.

The exiting companies cry foul because the taxation and licensing issues arose when they began to make huge profits.

The government has enough technical experts who can follow the trends and advice on the required changes in laws and policies.

Otherwise, we will continue to witness massive job losses in an economy where thousands of graduates are unemployed.

The call to anticipate changes also goes to business owners who are comfortable with the traditional business environment.

Taxi owners were hostile when new taxi apps were introduced in the market. Despite the strikes, the taxi companies started their operations.

Business owners should explore the opportunities that digital technologies offer instead of resisting change.

Huawei Mate 30 Phone Series Are Finally Out Without Google Apps

The Huawei ban in the US got many people talking around the world. The ban is perhaps the greatest challenge that the Chinese company has faced this year.

Huawei promised to bounce back and keep dominating the Android world.

The newly launched Mate 30 phone series is proof that the tech giant is determined to stay on top.

The ban meant that Huawei could no longer include Google services in new phone models.

Hence, both Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models have no Google apps. This means you cannot access your favourite apps on the Google Play Store.

In addition, you cannot access Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Photos or Google Drive.

The missing features have everyone wondering if the company will manage to sell the phones beyond China.

Would you buy a phone without Google Services? Well, before we talk about the price range, let us look at the specs.

Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro Specs and Features

Phone manufacturers often introduce two models of the same series at different prices. The Pro version has premium or better features, which is the case with the Mate 30 series.

Similar features:

Both phones have the same processor (Huawei Kirin 990), Operating system (EMU1 10), and Memory (8GB RAM). Both phones have a similar third rear camera (f/2.4 aperture 8MP, Telephoto camera).

Other similar features include the horizontal display and phone colors. You can pick any color from black, space silver, cosmic purple, or emerald green.

Differences in features

The table below displays the features of both 5G phones:

Feature Mate 30 Mate 30 Pro
Display 2340 x 1080 OLED screen (6.62 inches) 2400 x 11176 OLED screen (6.53 inches)
Storage 128 GB 256 GB
Front Camera 24MP 32MP
First Rear Camera f/1.8 aperture, Super sensing camera (40MP) f/1.6 aperture, Super sensing camera (40MP)
Second Rear Camera f/2.2 aperture, ultra wide angel camera (16MP) f/1.8 aperture, cine camera (40MP)
Fourth Rear Camera None 3D Depth sensing camera
Battery 4,200 mAh 4,500 mAh

You can tell from the list of features that Huawei went all out with the cameras and displays. Multiple rear cameras are the latest trend in smartphones.

In today’s world of selfies and preferences for visual content, phone brands are keen on the quality of both front and rear cameras.

Another notable feature is the large storage space, especially for the Mate 30 Pro.

You cannot offer 4 cameras and fail to provide enough space to store the photos and videos.

For the Mate 30 Pro customers, the Cine Camera stands out. Such a camera gives high-quality time-lapse videos.

Users can also take ultra slow motion and light videos.

The Porsche Design

The regular collection of both Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro has a matte finish in the four colors mentioned above.

The Porsche Design is a luxurious design of the same series of phone. You can go for the vegan leather forest green finish or the vegan leather orange.

You know how far you go to protect a new phone device with extra covers. This Porsche design protects the Android smartphone besides its expensive look and finish.

Pricing

Here is the part that everyone is curious to know- the price. We wish to tell you that the price fair but it is not.

China is the first market for the phone series. Both models will be on sale next month (October).

The Mate 30 price is set at €799, which is about $883. That is about Ksh. 80,000. How many phone brands sell at this price?

The Mate 30 Pro is priced at €1,099, which is around $1, 214. Converted to Kenya shillings, the phone is about Ksh.120, 000.

The Porsche Design (named Mate 30 RS) is more expensive than the other two, perhaps way too expensive.

The price tag is €2,095, which is converted to $2,318. We are talking about nearly the same specs with a leather finish at about Ksh. 230,000.

Thoughts on missing Google services

Back to the most intriguing part of this phone launch. In addition to the steep prices, the 5G phones lack Google services.

Huawei is spending about $1 billion to develop its own app store now that Google Play Store is still banned.

The move is the company’s effort to overcome the effects of the trade wars.

However, the question that most people have asked since the launch was first announced is on selling or marketing the devices.

The Chinese market is likely to keep supporting its brand. Huawei phones have been contributing to the company’s revenues for years.

The main challenge is marketing the phones at such high prices without Google services to the rest of the world.

We develop mobiles apps in Kenya so we understand how important Google Play Store is to phone buyers.

In fact, most people upgrade to expensive brands to access more features including their favourite apps and games.

For taxi-hailing apps like Uber and Taxify, a phone without Google Maps is simply out of question. Delivery and logistics apps fall into this category as well.

Video content has become increasingly popular among internet users and the majority trust the YouTube platform.

Consider the fact that the Android platform is the most popular in Kenya and around the world.

App owners prefer to list their apps on Google Play Store for easy access and to reach the large market.

Are customers willing to suddenly change from Google to Huawei’s new app store? Will app owners be willing to list their apps elsewhere for the sake of Huawei phone users?

The reality is that only a slice of the market for Android smartphones can afford the new Mate 30 phone models.

Huawei will have to keep rethinking its brand strategy before the world buys its new app store.

Conclusion

Despite the major missing feature, the Huawei Mate 30 and Mater 30 Pro have very competitive features. It is impossible for phone manufacturers to ignore the quality of Android smartphones that Huawei offers in the market. Huawei is still a competitive brand and with the right strategy, the company will stay afloat.

10 Important Lessons from the SOAR Africa Leadership and Entrepreneurship Summit

The much-publicised event, SOAR Africa Leadership and Entrepreneurship Summit finally took place in Nairobi. From the moment the main speaker, Bishop T. D. Jakes landed in the country, Kenyans have learnt important business lessons.

The American clergy and entrepreneur was not the only speaker at the event. From the dinner to the main summit, local leaders across all sectors have been sharing their leadership skills and lessons.

The speakers included Sylvia Mulinge (Safaricom), Strive Masiyiwa, Polycarp Igathe, Njoki Ndungu, Fred Matiangi (CS, Interior), Nunu Ntshingila (Facebook Africa), and  Darshan Chandaria among others.

What did entrepreneurs take home from this event? Here are top the lessons in summary:

1. Look inside you

One of the quotes that caught many people’s attention from Bishop Jakes was, “”You wake up not because of what’s around you, but what’s inside you.”

The emphasis was on looking on the skills, ideas, knowledge and passions within. Many entrepreneurs seek motivation but real change happens when they start pursuing their convictions.

Looking on the inside means that you stop complaining about what is missing and work with what you have.

In addition, when you are busy building what you believe in, you have little time to focus on those who do not believe in your dreams.

You become unstoppable the moment you stop looking for validation from others to pursue your dream.

Success happens when you actualize what lies inside on the outside.

2. Grow through challenges

You must expect challenges in business even with the right model and internal infrastructure. Your attitude will determine if you soar above the challenges or remain in the same position.

The Bishop called them “fire” or “trauma.” Understand that challenges refine you. Learning the art of self-healing is not optional. You must keep working in spite of the challenges.

Anyone who has done anything great or commendable in life has overcome one challenge after another.

The circumstances in your life should not distract you from pursuing your life’s purpose.

3. Build infrastructure

Stress while running your business is a sign that you have an inadequate infrastructure. It is a sign that you need to upgrade your infrastructure to meet your current level of growth.

Your internal capacity should grow at the same pace as your business. Otherwise, you will always be stressed as a business owner.

4. Never stop learning

You must remain a student in life and in business. Be open to unlearn old strategies and learn new things.

Technology changes every day. Do not be complacent but adopt a learning attitude in whatever field your passion lies.

Growth requires that you be willing to face the truth about your weaknesses. Include honest people in your inner circle who can tell you that truth for you to grow.

Learning is not enough. You must be willing to apply the lessons fully. You cannot select the easy lesson and leave out the hard lessons.

The lessons are meaningless if you are not willing to pay the price required to implement them fully.

5. Keep your promise

Branding is perhaps one of the major lessons to take home from this summit. Every time you create a brand, you make a promise. Keep that promise.

Are you as good as your branding message?

Give the clients or consumers an experience that matches the promise that your brand makes. If you have not been faithful to keep your promise, well, it is not too late to change.

Think global when building your brand. Modern technology makes it easy now to market products to the global market.

Another important lesson about branding; protect your brand!

6. Be patient

Figuring out your passion may take years. Be patient.

Bishop Jakes shared from his own experience. He did not figure out what his real passions and purpose were until he was 40.

Your brand is not that old. Give it time to develop.

If you still have not figured out your niche, give yourself time to discover it. You will be unstoppable when you finally figure it out.

7. Design for the future

Do not build your business or brand based on the past. Instead, design strategies for the future.

As an entrepreneur, you must anticipate change in your niche and plan.

Building for the future means that you focus on building a sustainable business.

What changes do you foresee that may make your brand or product irrelevant? Which technological changes may replace you as an employee or professional?

Start planning for such changes today.

8. Learn to negotiate and collaborate

If you want to bring a significant change in your world, you must learn to work with others. You do not always get everything you want on a negotiating table.

Learn the art of giving and taking from others. Negotiate what you need but be willing to accept what others are willing to offer.

Some changes, especially at the national and international level require collaboration among various stakeholders.

The public and private sectors sometimes have to work together to effect change. Find people with similar values as you and work together.

9. Identify and meet needs

Strive Masiyiwa made success in business sound to simple. It is all about getting back to the basics.

Success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to identify and meet human needs.

You probably as doing this but you can do more.

The next level of your success in business will depend on the needs you will meet with new products.

10. Think Africa

The fact that such great minds can come together in Africa should tell you that the continent has untapped potential.

Why would global companies be willing to come to the continent?

Apart from the implied lessons about our continent, the discussions at the summit pointed to the opportunities to do business.

In fact, the panellists emphasized that it is the best time to have a business idea in Africa. You will have a market for your product because technology has created new marketing opportunities.

Local companies such as KCB are already preparing the youth for self-employment. In other words, if you do not identify unmet needs and build a business around them now, someone is in school learning how to do it.

We cannot cover all the lessons from the summit that took days. However, we have summarized some of the top lessons learnt. As the panellists mentioned, the real change comes when you are willing to pay the price to implement the lessons.

Kobo360, a Leading E-Logistics Company Finally Launches Its Operations in Kenya

Kobo360 has finally launched its operations in Nairobi, Kenya as promised earlier in the year. The company has been running beta operations for the past five months.

Within this short period, the company has already registered more than 3,000 trucks and truck owners in the country.

The speed at which top companies joined the network is an indication of the unmet needs in Kenya’s logistics industry.

The Nigerian start-up has been disrupting the $150 billion logistics industry in Africa. The entrance to the Kenyan market will further disrupt operations in East Africa.

The gaps in the industry created an opportunity for Kobo360 to expand across Africa.

The logistics industry is characterised by expensive middlemen, corruption and overreliance on telephone calls, a trend that Kobo360 fights to disrupt.

The interest in the Kenyan market is expected. The country has the largest port in East Africa.

The port of Mombasa handles more than 13 million tonnes of cargo every year. The operations at the port are the busiest in the region.

In addition, the port links directly to more than 80 ports across the globe.

During the launch, the company’s CEO for the African region,
Kagure Wamunyu emphasized the opportunities that the port of Mombasa offers.

Mombasa is the gateway to other countries in East Africa including Uganda, Southern Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda.

Kagure noted that launching operations in Nairobi Kenya would enable Kobo360 to expand operations to other East African countries.

Kenya has a high rate of technology adoption. In fact, mobile penetration in Kenya is estimated at 91% while Africa’s average rate is 80%.

Further statistics indicate that more than 43.3 million Kenyans (84% of the total population) have access to the internet.

Given the nature of online logistics that Kobo360 specialises in, the Kenyan population is a ripe market for its operations.

Image: Techish Kenya

Kagure Wamunyu also highlighted the company’s intention to build its Global Logistics Operating System (G-LOS).

The system will enable it to facilitate the fast movement of goods across Africa at a low cost.

Kobo360 is a perfect example of the contribution of digital technology in providing business solutions.

Think about the thousands of truck owners that are already enjoying reliable logistics service in the country.

Kobo360 has already enlisted top companies in Kenya such as Bidco Africa, Rafiki Millers, Union Logistics Limited, McNeel Millers and Intraspeed ARCPRO Kenya Limited.

The list will grow further after the official launch with such giants giving the Company credibility and trust.

Funding operations in Kenya

The Logistics start-up announced earlier this month that it had secured a $30million funding.

The Nigerian tech company secured $10 million from local commercial banks.

The Series A equity round helped Kobo360 raise an additional $20 million to fund to expansion operations.

Goldman Sachs led the Series A round. Other contributors included International Finance Corporation (IFC), Asia Africa Investment and Consulting, Y Combinator and  TLcom Capital.

The net worth of these investors explain the company’s ability to expand from Nigeria to Kenya, Ghana, and Togo is such a short period.

With such financial back-up, Kobo360 will offer seamless connections among truck owners, cargo owners, drivers, and cargo recipients.

Modern technology is at the heart of the supply chain framework with the company offering real-time visibility of the location of trucks on its network.

Kobo360 has solutions for both truck owners and customers that need a reliable network to move their cargo.

In addition to efficient logistics, Kenyans should consider the employment opportunities that Kobo360 has created.

Since March 2019, the e-logistics startup has been creating new jobs in its East African office.

In addition, truck drivers have new job opportunities as more than 3,000 truck owners have already joined the Kobo360 network.

Customers can expect a suitable match with a quality and reliable truck owner within 6 hours.

A combination of data analytics, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Mobile technology supports efficient matches.

Kobo360 offers reverse logistics, which doubles the income of truck drivers.

All the trips are insured and customers can lock a low rate for a trip for up to two weeks.

It will be interesting to witness the change in logistics in Kenya and the East Africa Region after this launch.

The entrance of Kobo360 is also a wake-up call to Kenyan entrepreneurs to see the opportunities that foreign investors can spot from far.

Opportunities in the logistics industry will always be there as long as the busy Mombasa port is operational.

In addition, tech companies in Kenya have opportunities to create efficient mobile and web solutions for logistics and other fast-growing industries.