The week started with the viral spread of the Developer’s edition and teasers of the new kid from Microsoft, the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. I am yet to use the new OS but it is worth noting that I can’t wait for the personal edition to roll out. From my interaction with Windows 7 and Apple’s Mac OS X Lion, I am looking forward to using Windows 8. Oh! Windows 8 should be able to boot up in 8 seconds on a proper PC!
I ain’t done with Microsoft yet. The eagerly awaited products of its partnership with Nokia, phones running Windows Phone 7 (7.5) code named Mango, are set to debut early in the coming month. Let’s see what the highly hyped Mango brings to the high alter of competitive mobile phone operating systems. Can it beat Blackberry OS, iOS and Android?
Google+, the social networking service from search giant Google, finally rolled out to the general public on 20th. I have a very harsh review of Google+ and I’ll analyse it properly soon. With the public launch came added features on the Google Plus app for Android. It’s now possible to start hangouts on the android application. I’ve tried the updated G+ app(version 1.0.7) and it is well above the mark. Add the newly included features and those included in v1.0.6 like the ability to reshare posts and you have a nice app. The mobile site has also been tweaked and its great though alot can still be done.
The queen of sideshows and things to attract attention realized that she was getting old and got a redesign. Yes I am referring to Facebook, the dominant social network. In a major redesign, users can now subscribe( FB style of Twitter-like following) to receive updates from other people who they are not friends with. In other words, Mark Zuckerberg and company have made it easier for stalkers to be getting updates from you. There’s also the Tickle which updates posts and activities in real time. The profiles too got a makeover. People can also comment on Facebook pages they’ve never Liked. The introduction of a Twitter-like timeline just sucks. Of cause there was an overwhelming negative outcry but does Zuckerberg care about your hues and cries or the revenue from sponsoring and other corporates?
On the Kenyan twitterverse we call it iTorch, yet it is widely used in tweeting. I mean text-tweeting. Twitter seems to have learnt of user retention because it is now possible to send photos direct to your Twitter timeline using text messaging.
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In the past two weeks, events have taken place that truly reflect the advancements in technology and social media.
The role of bloggers and influential ordinary (I don’t know why “ordinary”) Kenyans social media in Kenya is slowly being appreciated. For this reason, two of the highest ranked government officers invited tweeps and bloggers to different forums where they were to represent the Kenyans on social networks and the blogosphere. There was the #DinnerWithPM and the #VPmeetup. I was lucky to secure an invite to the Vice President’s meetup. Whatever went on in these meetings(informal) is another matter altogether but the most important aspect is that finally our local politicians are starting to see the importance of the many a times anonymous and little known personalities behind widely popular blogs and Twitter accounts. This in itself presents the dynamics brought about by the increased usage of social media amongst the citizenry to pass information amongst themselves without relying on traditional information sources like newspapers which normally stick with strict media ethics (of course for public good and protection of reputations).
Airtel Kenya CEO Rene Meza left for Vodacom TZ to work in the same capacity in a company owned by Vodafone UK, the parent company of Safaricom Ltd, Airtel Kenya’s main competitor. How this will affect the local telecommunications sector is yet to be seen. However, the issue of inconsistency and unpredictability at Airtel (Kencell, Celtel, Zain) is what comes to mind in light of the latest developments.
Just days after the Communications Commission of Kenya, CCK, backed out of a plan to switch off all counterfeit cellphones, President Kibaki ordered the switching off of all unregistered SIM cards. Now that this is a presidential directive, I hope CCK, working with the service providers will move in fast and not only switch off all unregistered SIM cards but also the counterfeit cellphones (read China phones).
With Kenya’s expected digital migration, plans are underway to have set top boxes made in Kenya and specifically at the University of Nairobi. This will be a big leap because it will not only lead to a decrease in set top boxes’ prices but it will also be an avenue for students to learn a lot as regards emerging technologies.
The Business Insider released its widely acclaimed Top 100 startups to watch out in 2011 and beyond. Two were from Kenyan developers. Pesapal and Ushahidi made it to this coveted list. Kudos to them. It is also very encouraging to local developers. We can toil knowing that at the end there’s hope.
Orange Kenya, after several false starts, finally unveiled its long awaited 21 Mbs 3G network. I am yet to experience it thus I am forced to imagine it was a Nairobi only launch and a complete roll out to other parts of the nation is coming up. I hope so.
Samsung is getting bigger and bigger in Kenya. This is demonstrated in its two high profile product launches in Nairobi over the last two weeks. It unveiled locally both the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Samsung Galaxy S 2. Even though the devices are targeted for the high end market, they are the best that there are in terms of devices running the Android operating system.
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A quick look at the Kenyan Twitterverse today shows two trends. There has been #AlfredMutua which did trend due to the ignorance of a government officer who believes that the government is always right even when its evident the opposite is true. Of course the other trending topic was #Kenyans4Kenya which I link with it’s brother(or sister), #FeedKE.
The initiative which is meant to raise funds to help Kenyans facing starvation in various parts of the country has been a true test of the power of social media, the blogosphere and emergent money transfer systems like M-PESA mobile money transfer and others like Airtel Money. Kenyans have flocked various online forums and social networks to express their solidarity with their starving countrymen and also sympathize with them and condole the families of those who lost their loved ones in what has been described as East Africa’s worst famine in sixty years.
People have overwhelmingly swarmed the Facebook page of the ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ initiative to contribute both in thought and kind. Twitter is even a bigger success story. With over Ksh 15milliom being raised in the first 24hours of the launch of the initiative, the power of mobile money transfer and social media cannot be downplayed.
Indeed to anyone who will read this blog post, I urge you to help other Kenyans facing starvation. Send your M-PESA donation to paybill number 111111 or 10000 using the account name “feedke”.
It is such a pleasure that social media and mobile money transfer can be integrated to help save lives in our nation.
A special thank you to the various corporates who’ve come out to support this noble cause.
Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA
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That social media is big in Kenya is no doubt. That it has changed the lives of many Kenyans is clearly visible. Today is Social Media Day in Kenya and although most mainstream media houses have shunned publicizing the day, it did not go unnoticed.
Twitter was buzzing with #SMdayKE and #SocialMediaDayKenya tweets from the thousands of Kenyan Twitter users who have left a mark in the social media service. Of course we don’t need any survey to determine the social media kings in East and Central Africa. Kenya leads the pack. Kenyan application developers have kept the Kenyan “Twitterverse” alive with customized local clients. Heads up to all of them.
My previous blogpost focused on Chief Justice Mutunga’s entry into social media. That should tell any skeptics how big, important and influential social media is in Kenya. It has transformed our lives in ways never seen before. To start with, the Finance Minister posted the budget estimates on his Facebook page a day before the formal reading of the budget statement in Parliament. Before then, he had requested for Kenyans input in the budget making process and Kenyans, for the first time, tweeted their thoughts and suggestions. A noticeable example is that of the Kenyan who tweeted requesting the scraping of filing tax returns at KRA for single salaried employees. The Minister did just that! That’s a very positive stride.
Today, all media houses in Kenya engage widely on social media. Newspaper publishers are using Facebook and Twitter to drive massive traffic to their news websites. TV stations are widely engaging their viewers on social media. Corporates are interacting with their clients on social media. Even top government parastatals like utility service providers have embraced social media.
There was the #KenyaFeb28 initiative whose success can be widely attributed to social media. Thanks to Facebook groups, pages and Kenyans on Twitter, the day turned out to be a major event that brought out the patriotism of Kenyans on social media platforms.
Coincidentally, Kenya’s social media day comes only a day after search giant Google unveiled its new social networking service, Google+. Whether it will succeed in Kenya and make inroads the way Facebook and Twitter have managed to or it will sink into oblivion like Google Buzz and Google Wave, only time will tell.
Of course there are many social media platforms, some startups, some on their death beds(MySpace, Friendster etc) and others that serve several purposes like exclusive photo sharing, video sharing etc.
YouTube is one service that has been phenomenal in Kenya. Today, missing a popular TV show like Churchill Live(which sadly ended today. Season three should come soon), Capital Talk, Bulls Eye, Kukurukakara etc isn’t much stressful, YouTube has it all.
Today, not embracing social media at an individual or organizational level is suicidal. Social media is here to stay, it is part and parcel of us.
Happy Social Media Day!
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Late on Friday afternoon word went round in Kenyan internet circles and the blogosphere that the new Chief Justice, Dr Willy Munyoki Mutunga(just call him Willy, he says) had joined the revolutionary social media world to connect with “his bosses” as he clearly put it. That’s my CJ people!
That is such a great gesture of interaction never witnessed before. For a man of his stature, to look down and tell his fellow countrymen that it’s not all about himself but themselves is commendable. It is not lost on Kenyans that this is otherwise one of the very conservative offices in the land. However, thanks to Dr Mutunga and his equally reform minded deputy, Mrs Nancy Baraza, the judiciary is fast establishing a connection with the common man on the street.
I had a feeling right from the start that things would be different when he showed up for his swearing in at State House in a simple suit. That’s my CJ people! Not only did the previous dress code of the CJ look archaic, it was intimidating. Simply put, it had no connection with the bosses, the Kenyan taxpayers nor did it reflect on our national ideals as a Kenya independent of colonial practices. Away with the colonial wigs any flowing red robes!
That this would be a judiciary with a independence is not lost on anyone. Not only did Dr Mutunga join Facebook and Twitter, he expressed his hope that the whole judiciary should be connected. Well said Willy, I look forward to following all the judges on Twitter. Hope they follow suit. That tweet he posted about his colleagues on the bench joining him on social media reminds me of the tech savvy Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta who recently, while presenting the 2011-2012 budget statement, urged other MPs to embrace social media. Of course the Kenyan political class has tried with the DPM, Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua and Presidential hopeful Peter Kenneth being the other active MPs on social media.
I believe the greatest lesson we can learn from Dr Mutunga is that servant leadership is what Kenya has lacked for long. It is this servant leadership that kenyans yearn for. Leaders who can go where their bosses, the people of Kenya, are and engage them meaningfully. The CJ enjoys alot of public goodwill and as I wrote on his Facebook wall, “Great expectations” is all Kenyans have.
All the best Willy!
Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA.
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