Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Obituary: My Nexus 4

The Nexus 4(image: LG)


I had planned to do a write up of how my Nexus 4, a 2012 device bought in 2013, was functioning in 2016. Amidst lots of procrastination, someone conned me off the phone. So we will now have to do with a “eulogy”.


***


My beloved phone, a Nexus 4, was lost to a con man on the 26th of February. It is a phone I had owned for 2 years and 4 months.


Technically, it was known as the LG E60, or the code name LG Mako. It did not have a pet name.


It was a phone that was purchased in the United States in October 2013. It had to be purchased by my pal’s brother, because Google, the company that sells the device, does not accept purchase of the same with debit or credit cards issued in Kenya.


While it originally cost about KSh. 33,000, I was lucky enough to purchase the phone at a time Google was having a clearance sale, meaning I got it for KSh. 25,000. The model was later to be replaced by the Nexus 5 in November 2013, hence the clearance.


The phone was brought to Kenya aboard a KLM flight, by my colleague Peter,  who had been in the US to attend Oracle World. Now, the phone was purchased in the East Coast of the US, and Oracle World was taking place in the West Coast, hence it had to be shipped across the North American continent by air freight. That costs less than KSh. 1,000 though.


The Nexus devices are a brand owned and sold by Google. Google makes and owns Android, the popular phone operating system. Google, however, does not manufacture hardware, hence contracts firms such as LG, Motorola and Huawei to manufacture such devices for Google.


Why the trouble of buying the Nexus from the opposite side of the globe?

Monday, 29 February 2016

How I lost my phone to Nairobi's best con man

Moi Avenue, with a view of the point where I encountered Nairobi's best con man,
and parted with my phone

A good con requires the highest level of cooperation from the victim.


***
I lost my phone on Friday evening, some time between 6:40 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. I know the time because my receipt indicates I was served at Ukwala Supermaket, Tom Mboya at 6:32 p.m., on the 26th of February, 2016.


Given I'm a brisk walker who avoids crowds, it should not have taken me more than five minutes to get to the area around the Tom Mboya statue on Moi Avenue,  just opposite the Hilton.


My habit of avoiding crowds is what led to what became a tragic decision, to walk along the road and emerge at the bus stop next to Ambassadeur Hotel, rather than walk along the pavement. It is here that I bumped into the villain, Nairobi’s best con man. He was running, kicking a plastic bottle along the road.


He said something to me that I didn't catch, to which I responded with a “huh”? It was only the two of us and lots of buses, for everyone else was using the zebra crossing next to Pizza Inn, then walking past the entrance to Standard Chattered Bank and Mr. Price.


My “huh” response was the second tragic decision, a series that would lead to me losing my prized phone. The chap then rushed back to me and started talking fast, saying he had said “brown”. My highly vain self thought he was talking about my brown shoes. He later would state that he was referring to my complexion. I would also later learn that this was the hook, which I had swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Globalisation and technology : Make sure your business does not miss the taxi

Uber regularly teams up with vehicle manufacturers in marketing stunts, like this free ride in Johannesburg in May 2015. On the opposite lane are public taxis (3 white vans) of the kind that are having their operating model challenged by technology based transport service operators like Uber.


Every pundit in Kenya is writing on Uber, and I have joined the fray. Tom Makua keeps poking fun at how columnists use world events to draw business lessons. It is a foolproof way of looking like you know what you are saying - after all, you are drawing lessons from other people's failures, rather than been the one stuck with a failing strategy.

A good thing with drawing lessons from failure is that people tend to have a better idea of what you are saying. If you write the same article before an issue arises, people will tend to ignore it. There's the possibility too that things might not end up the way you promise they will.

In the past few weeks, Uber has irked other taxi players in Kenya. It is not clear what the reason is - Is it that Uber is charging far lower than they do, or that Uber is drawing their clients, or that Uber has a majority share of the consumer side of taxi business?

What is clear is that the "traditional" players who have been operating in Nairobi do not like Uber. You would think it is an exaggeration stating so called "traditional" players are literally stuck in the stone age. They have however tried hard to erase any doubt in this statement by actually stoning their competitors. How apt.

Uber is not even a year old in Kenya. They launched in July, 2015. They have however been so successful that almost every taxi operator that is not Uber appears pissed. They have managed to turn the industry upside down in only 6 months.

Uber's international expansion began in 2012. 3 years later, they were in Nairobi. It is not typical for a Silicon Valley company to expand that fast to Nairobi. Kenyans, or rather, Nairobians, are typically used to being ignored by US companies, who dedicate resources to rolling out in more populated countries and cities, or ones where the economy is far larger than Kenya's.

This is understandable. Kenya's economy is quite small, yet the regulations that tech companies have to face before rolling out here are not as few. It thus makes sense to focus on the Indias, Brazil, and other places first. Spain, with a population close to Kenya's, has an economy 20 times larger than Kenya's, despite Spain's reputation as a struggling economy in Europe!

Looking at Google Trends, global news about Uber started picking up in 2014, with interest taking off around mid 2014. This means that a majority of Kenyans must have started hearing about Uber's activities in other countries about mid 2014.

Did our "traditional" taxi drivers hear about Uber before it's arrival here? I'll assume it's highly unlikely. First, most of them did not have smartphones as recently as last year, hence were unlikely to be using the Internet as a source of news.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

2015 Tanzania Elections Infographic


The above infographic is made from information collected from official Facebook and Twitter pages of the 2 presidential candidates.

Additionally, information from Google Trends which represents relative interest in terms of Google Searches has been added, based on 30 day and 7 day interest in the 2 candidates.

Google Trends does not show the total number of searches. Google explains "The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time." Thus a decrease in numbers for the 2 candidates means popularity is decreasing compared to other searches ie, people are making more searches for other terms, not necessarily that fewer people are searching for the two.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya.
Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian
I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close.
Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one. 
I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinions of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives a free,  extra hangover for every hangover you get from it.

For starters, like everyone else, I discovered that beer isn’t as sweet as it looks like in those adverts that show golden barley swaying in breezes,  happy men smiling and toasting chilled, foaming glasses of beer as a deep voice does some narration in the background.

Beer is bitter! Now, it turns out beer is intentionally made bitter. See,  beer shares the same ingredients as bread. The major difference is that bread isn't fermented. Bread is sweet, so why isn't beer sweet?