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Budget speech good for entrepreneurs and SMEs

PKF, the chartered accounting and business advisory firm that specialises in servicing growing and entrepreneurial companies, is positive about this year’s budget speech. Tax specialist DR ROBIN BEALE explains why.

Dr Robin BealeThe new simplified, turnover-based tax system for small businesses, announced by Trevor Manual in his budget speech today, is to be welcomed, even though some caution is in order.

The simpler tax matters are for the small business, the better. The new turnover-based tax proposed for these businesses will be a combination of VAT and income tax, with business owners paying tax on their total turnover without making any deductions for expenses. However, there is a danger that small, unsophisticated businesses could unwittingly miscalculate their taxes. Therefore a simpler turnover system is preferable.

Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Trends

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 1: The digital hearth

In this wrap-up from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, The Big Change summarises some of the hi-tech breakthroughs, launches and visions that are already changing or about to change the way we work and live.

Just more than 40 years after it was first staged by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas saw one of the greatest explosions of cutting-edge technologies in its history last week.

Gary Shapiro, CEA president and CEOMore than 2,700 exhibitors, a record 1.85 million square feet of exhibit space across a number of venues, and the industry’s leading executives unveiling their visions, were all symptoms of a bigger trend that is playing itself out across the world.

According to CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, in his “State of the Industry” address, consumer electronics industry sales will jump to $171 billion in 2008, a 6.1 percent increase over 2007. He cautioned that, although the industry would continue to outpace projected sales in other industries, continued growth is threatened by protectionist policies. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 2: Content and cars

New content and entertainment platforms and electronic advances in the automotive market were two of the hot topics of the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Leaders from Comcast and General Motors delivered keynote addresses illustrating consumer technology’s growing relationship with both the content and automotive industries.

GM’s hydrogen car designed for Jay LenoBrian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp., the largest cable TV services in the USA, became the first chief executive from the cable industry to deliver a CES keynote. He said today’s convergence of media has ushered in a new era for Comcast, which he referred to as Comcast 3.0. He identified innovation, technology, choice and customer service as the four major elements at the center of Comcast 3.0.

Roberts announced the end of an era for set-top boxes, and proclaimed a new generation for two-way platforms with the introduction of an OpenCable platform called tru2way. Panasonic president Toshihiro Sakamoto joined Roberts on stage to announce their co-creation of AnyPlay, the first portable DVR and DVD combination with tru2way capability. Roberts also announced that more than 1,000 HD choices will be available for the portable device in 2008. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 3: 20 new technologies.

Technologies that will change the world, or at least prove to be disruptive, range from medical devices using advanced microchips; a universal availability of open-source software; all DRM-free music and the recent change in encryption licensing allowing consumers to download and burn their own media.

World’s largest HD plasma-screen display from PanasonicThese were some of the predictions for future disruptive technologies made at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week in a SuperSession entitled “Big Thinkers, Disruptive Technologies – Today’s Thought Leaders, Tomorrow’s Technologies”.

The common theme of the panel was a future where consumers enjoy the democratization of information and technology.

The big trend at CES was the rapid roll-out of new display technologies, larger displays and cheaper displays, with the likes of Sharp and Samsung competing head-to-head with traditional display leaders like Sony and Panasonic.

Here is a sampling of the new technology and devices unveiled at CES 2008 that captured the attention of the world: Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

Location, location, location? Wrong, wrong, wrong

In real estate, you will have heard, there are only three rules: location, location and location.

In the emerging industry of mobile commerce, we hear the same argument. Much is made of the potential of location-based services (or LBS, in its inevitable acronymisation). The most profitable models for the delivery of mobile commerce services, say the experts, will be based on where users find themselves. Ergo, the most successful services should be the likes of:
IBM’s vision of LBSTraveller services – business travellers wanting information on the destination where they’ve just arrived;

Entertainment information – users going out to movies or a meal wanting information on what is in the area where they find themselves;

Route information – directions on getting where you want to go from where you are;

Emergency services – alerting rescue, medical or police services on the location of someone in distress (for more examples, See IBM’s vision of LBS).

Aside from the last – which is more usually the province of public authorities rather than of commercial services – the problem with this vision is that much of it doesn’t make sense. Oh yes, it makes perfect sense from a technological perspective. This is what the technology can do, so why shouldn’t it be part of the promise?

Even academics are arguing that mobile commerce is dependent on Location on the one hand, and on Time on the other. In short, where users are, and when they are there.

But it is wrong, wrong, wrong. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology, Trends

Americans go content-crazy

Nearly half of U.S. media consumers are frequently creating online content for others to see, according to a survey commissioned by Deloitte & Touche USA.

This marks a 12 point escalation from a prior survey commissioned by Deloitte in early 2007, challenging the conventional assumption that online content creation is limited to a niche group of technology-savvy individuals. This and additional top-line survey findings were released last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.Ed Moran: unheralded choice has been created

Deloitte’s 2008 State of the Media Democracy survey found that 45 percent of survey respondents are developing web sites, photo albums, blogs and music online to share with friends, family, peers and total strangers.

“Mass digitization has created unheralded choice and desire for American consumers,” said Ed Moran, director of product innovation for Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group. “Now, more than ever, consumers have the independence to enjoy what they want, when they want it, and where they want it – but increasingly, they are also choosing to create content themselves, or re-working other people’s content.” Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

Rwanda president at CES: 'Technology brings stability'

Technology brings jobs and financial stability, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, told a session of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Discussing emerging technology and its impact on his country and the African continent, President Kagame spoke of his desire for Rwanda to prosper through technology.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame at CESHe was speaking on the inaugural CES Industry Insider program on Technology and Emerging Countries at the Consumer Electronics Show. The program also featured Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) and the MIT Media Lab.

In his opening keynote address for the program, Negroponte explained OLPC’s goal of eliminating poverty in third-world countries through education. He declared that, since most of the nearly two-billion children in developing countries are poorly educated, “We must restore, introduce and create the passion for learning in children.” Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight, News, Technology, Trends

Yahoo! wants your desktop … and your phone … and Google

Yahoo! co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang this week detailed a vision for delivering the most personally-relevant and indispensable Internet experience to consumers worldwide. Addressing the needs of today’s users at the 2008 International CES Industry Insider Series at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yang provided the first public demonstration of Yahoo!’s latest mobile offerings and offered a concept demonstration of the future of the desktop experience.

Jerry Yang and David Filo at CESIn his speech, Yang said “from the newest to the most experienced user, Yahoo!’s goal is to be the simple starting point for a much richer and more complex world so you can get more out of it. Whether you’re looking for fun, information, entertainment or social connections, you want to experience everything to the fullest – this is living life with an exclamation point.”

Yang’s presentation and message were clearly a response to the massive strides made by Google over the past two years – much of it ironically coming after a keynote presentation by Google at the same venue two years ago. At CES 2006, Google unveiled a strategy roadmap that electrified the content industry. Since then, Google has implemented its strategy to such dramatic effect, that it dominates search throughout the world, and sets the agenda in areas as diverse as mapping, social networking and desktop customisation.

And Yahoo! wants some of what those guys are having. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology, Trends

Rise of digital music spells end of record label as we know it

Plummeting CD sales means that the record label as we know it is on the way out. And fast-rising digital sales are not enough to reverse the trend.

His Master’s Voice is fading fastYankee Group announced at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday that two fundamental shifts were driving the music industry – digitisation and direct-to-consumer transactions. As a result, US recording industry revenue has plummeted 25% since peaking at $14.6 billion in 1999. By year-end 2006, it had declined to $11 billion.

In 2008, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, games software will pass the $11-billion mark, confirming that computer games now represent a bigger content market than music.
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Posted in the category: News, Trends

CES keynote: Intel promises Internet in your pocket

Intel Corporation President and CEO Paul Otellini said on Monday the Internet will continue disrupting the consumer electronics and entertainment industries in new ways and described how the Internet’s evolution will create business opportunities for “those who embrace it.”

Paul Otellini“We’re now in the midst of the largest opportunity to redefine consumer electronics and entertainment since the introduction of the television,” Otellini said during a keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show. “Increasingly, computing and communications are coming together, bringing a new level of capabilities and intelligence to the Internet experience. The personal Internet of tomorrow will serve you – delivering the information you want, when you want it, how you want, wherever you are.” Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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