We predict six ICT/tech developments expected in the Caribbean in 2013.
There were a number of tech/ICT issues that had us talking and elicited considerable reaction in 2012, Examples include the significant mobile/cellular rate reductions in Jamaica; the entry of Karib Cable and Flow into the Barbados telecoms market; and the launch of the Huawei Media Pad 7 Lite across the region. In this our first post for 2013, we are setting the stage by highlighting six developments we expect to occur in the Caribbean this year.
Do have a read and let us know what you think…
1. Greater acceptance and use of cloud computing options by businesses
Cloud computing has been around for a number of years, and most evidently as email services such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo, for which many of us have at least one account. On the other hand, many organisations traditionally have preferred to acquire and keep their computing resources – servers, storage, software, etc. – in-house. However, thanks to improved Internet broadband speeds, pricing and reliability, plus the protracted economic downturn that is still present in the Caribbean, businesses may be more inclined to explore the cost management features that cloud services offer.
Additionally, with the imminent launch of the Curaçao Technology Exchange (CTEX), a Tier IV- certified data centre located in Curaçao, along with agents that are aggressive marketing the facility across the region, we expect increased awareness and interest in the data storage and management options available in the Caribbean. In some instances, the impetus for considering services closer to home would be due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the United States, which revealed how challenged that country could be in the aftermath of a major disaster.
2. Increased efforts to address cybercrime and security within the region
Over the last few years, network security experts regularly reported that the Caribbean is highly susceptible to and frequently experiences a broad range of Internet threats, but there appeared to be little action to address the situation. Last year, 2012, might have been a turning point.
Network breaches of government and prominent private organisations in a number of countries across the region, were publicly reported, thus stressing the need for improved cyber security measures. Moreover, through support from COMNET, and its Memorandum of Understanding with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, and from the Commonwealth Secretariat, among other agencies, tools and technical assistance have been made available to help countries individually and collectively tackle this issue. We hope to see some results this year.
3. A change in the competition dynamics between telcos and consumers
One of the most touted benefits of competition in telecoms services is the availability of choice. Consumers would no longer be restricted to the offerings of only one provider. Through having multiple players in a market, there would be a wider range of offerings and thus greater choice. Unfortunately, what is not often mentioned, is the fact that once you have made a choice, especially in respect of mobile/cellular and fixed voice services, it can be virtually impossible to change service providers – thus exercising one’s freedom of choice – and keep the initially assigned identifier, your telephone number.
As reflected in our post, Snapshot: number portability in the Caribbean, published last year, several countries across the region are in the process of implementing number portability. In many instances, implementation should be completed within a year. Hence by year-end, and into 2014, we should begin to see changes in consumer behaviour, particularly in the fixed voice and mobile/cellular markets, when customers realise they are not as constrained as they used to be.
4. Greater affinity for tablet computers over the PC/laptop
Over the last two years or so, we have been seeing greater take-up of tablet computers across the Caribbean, particularly among enterprise, especially professionals, senior managers and executives. Most of them may still have a PC or laptop on their desk in the office, but are likely to be using and carrying around a tablet they might have purchased personally, not their employers.
However, although we might all aspire to own an Apple iPad, there is a growing range of quality tablets at considerably lower price points, which is steadily eroding the iPad’s market share. Moreover, even among government initiatives, such as One Laptop per Child and having computers in the classroom, there appears to be a change in emphasis from PCs and laptops, to tablets. Hence we might be seeing the emergence of the tablet as the portable/computing device of choice, in the region.
5. Increased focus on device security
Device theft has been a serious problem across the Caribbean for several years especially as smartphones have become more prominent and are status symbols in our societies. As more people move towards tablet computers, often to replace their PC and/or laptop, there will be a greater emphasis on keeping such devices secure.
The importance of good passwords practices has been stressed repeatedly. However, with time and some inexpensive tools, that measure can easily be breached. Hence there is likely to be greater focus on other measures, such as biometrics, code lockers and device tracker products and applications, to improve device security.
6. The BlackBerry will continue to lose its lustre
Since 2011, we have been reporting on the challenges the BlackBerry phone, and its manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM), has been experiencing. On 30 January 2013, RIM plans to launch a new Operating System (X10) and a suite of new phones, which it hopes will make it more competitive in the current smartphone market.
The BlackBerry has enjoyed considerable prominence and market share in the Caribbean, but this has been steadily eroding over the last two years or so by the growing popularity and availability of other much-coveted smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy line of devices. Hence, even if X10 and the new phones are favourably received, the BlackBerry might not be able to oust the current top selling Apple and Android-based smartphones as the preferred device in the region.
Image credits: Master isolated images (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)