ISSUE October 19
SMART TECH ISSUE #192
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TheEditor Home education WHILE I DO have quite a few smart home gadgets, after making this month’s magazine I’ve realised I’m probably not using them to their full potential. It turns out that smart speakers can do a bit more than just save your shopping list and tell you jokes about cats – although it’s worth noting that Alexa does have quite a few good ones up her artificial sleeve. We all know what a home security camera is, and I’m sure a few of you reading this have a smart thermostat, but as the smart home market evolves, innovators are using this technology to create some weird and wonderfully useful tech. This year’s IFA, which took place in September, was the ideal place to showcase a number of new use-cases. Along with more smart speakers than you could shake a stick at, we saw tech to help grow plants, more advancements in the health tech sector and some interesting updates to the autonomous vehicle market. You can read more about IFA 2019 in Gekko’s review on p28. Also this month, we catch up with TP-Link (p16) and Netatmo (p49), who both discuss their latest smart home products. We also ponder what’s in store for the market in the near future on p24, and round up the latest smart home tech (p32) and smartphone accessories (p40) in this issue’s sector guides. So, make yourself comfy, have a flick through these pages, and get yourself a healthy dose of smart home education.
“It turns out that smart speakers can do a bit more than just save your shopping list and tell you jokes about cats”
Laura Barnes, Editor
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06 Retail Analysis: Advice on GDPR compliance 10 Industry opinions 16 The Big Interview: TP-Link's Lino Notaro 20 PCR Awards 2020 announcement 24 The future of the smart home market 27 IFA 2019 review 30 What impact is smart tech having on your business? 32 Sector Guide: Smart Home 38 Crowdfunding Corner 40 Sector Guide: Smartphones and Accessories 45 In My Team: BT Shop 46 Life in the Channel: Netatmo's Sean O'Brien 49 Logging Off
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The data game
GDPR With more than half of UK businesses still not fully GDPR compliant, Laura Barnes discovers some of the myths around the regulation, mistakes companies have made over the past year, and what retailers can do to ensure they are fully compliant going forwards...
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n May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation, or as most of us know it as, GDPR, came into effect. Ahead of its implementation, businesses and consumers were somewhat bombarded with warnings about its importance, the severe implications on businesses if they weren’t GDPR compliant, and a promise to consumers that their privacy and information rights would be vastly improved. Despite this, almost 18 months on, and new research has found that 52% of UK businesses are still not fully compliant with the regulation. Findings from a survey conducted by Egress reveal that over one-third of decision-makers said GDPR has become less of a priority for their organisation in the last 12 months. A significant proportion (35%) of GDPR decisionmakers said that the majority of compliance activity had taken place in the lead up to the May 2018 deadline and had since dropped down the priority list and remained less important. Only 6% said that the ICO’s recent high-profile announcements of its intention to fine British Airways and Marriott had subsequently shocked the business back towards greater awareness. Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress believes that the rush to meet last May’s deadline has resulted in an ‘almost compliant is close enough’ attitude towards GDPR, noting the decrease in focus over the past year. “The wait of more than a year between implementation and the first action taken by the ICO under GDPR seemed to lead to a perception outside the security industry that the regulation was ‘all bark and no bite’. “Although the authority’s announcement that it intends to fine British Airways and Marriott such staggering sums sent shockwaves through the security community, it is concerning only 6% of organisations have taken action to avoid the full potential of the legislation. These announcements should definitely have acted as a clearer warning that organisations cannot risk compliance complacency,” says Pepper. “This is important for businesses in the small and midmarket segments, where our survey found lower compliance levels being reported. Although the ICO’s action to date has focused on two well-known enterprise organisations, GDPR demands compliance from businesses of all sizes and they need to take all necessary steps towards protecting data.” The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament. Sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), it is the independent regulatory office dealing with a number of regulations,
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“With the initial hard work of implementing the GDPR behind us, there are ongoing challenges of operationalising and normalising the new regime. This is true for businesses and organisations of all sizes” Elizabeth Denham CBE, ICO including the General Data Protection Regulation. In a recent blog post, Elizabeth Denham CBE, UK information commissioner at the ICO, delved deeper into the state of today’s GDPR affairs since its implementation. “Last May marked a seismic shift in privacy and information rights with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018,” she said. “The change in the regulatory landscape has shown the importance of getting privacy right. People have woken up to the new rights the GDPR delivers, with increased protection for the public and increased obligations for organisations. “But there is much more still to do to build the public’s trust and confidence. With the initial hard work of preparing for and implementing the GDPR behind us, there are ongoing challenges of operationalising and normalising the new regime. This is true for businesses and organisations of all sizes. “A key area of work for my office during 2019/20 will be to support all parts of the UK business community, from the smallest SMEs to the biggest boardrooms, to deliver what is needed,” promised Denham. “Where the law requires it, I want to see Data Protection Officers (DPOs) embedded and supported in their respective organisations by senior management. “The focus for the second year of the GDPR must be beyond baseline compliance. Organisations need to shift their focus to accountability with a real evidenced understanding of the risks to individuals in the way they process data and how those risks should be mitigated,” she warned.
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“Keeping sensitive data safe is critical to the success of retailers, as a data breach can irreversibly damage consumer trust and a retailer’s reputation” Paul Barnes, Webroot Myths and mistakes While some businesses have managed to get their GDPR situation in order, it seems like a surprisingly high amount have struggled to get it under control. PCR asked Paul Barnes, VP of product strategy and UX at Webroot what some of the biggest mistakes businesses have been making when it comes to GDPR compliance. “A lot of businesses, particularly SMBs, may have started too late in implementing GDPR changes last year. When GDPR compliance is allocated to a person/department, those individuals are often so engaged in fulfilling their day-to-day obligations that the move to compliance wanes until there is a sudden realisation that GDPR must be upheld or businesses will face severe consequences. “Many see GDPR as a one-dimensional compliance problem that’s best left to their legal department. This is a serious error, as GDPR impacts every department within a business that processes personal data. If left to one person/ department, businesses could struggle to struggle to stay compliant,” says Barnes. “An important point to note is that GDPR compliance doesn’t equal a robust cybersecurity strategy, and this is a mistake that many businesses make. An organisation can tick all the boxes to comply with GDPR regulations, but security cannot be guaranteed because of it, and businesses should not see GDPR as an excuse to not invest in a cybersecurity solution.” We also asked Barnes about some of the myths out there around GDPR that may have caused problems for UK businesses. “I think the most damaging myth is that data breach reporting is all about punitive action toward organisations,” Barnes tells PCR. “GDPR is designed to give organisations a nudge to improve their ability to detect and deter breaches. Punishing organisations is not at the forefront of regulators’ minds, instead, they are looking to encourage businesses to tighten their data handling processes and reduce security vulnerabilities. “Naturally, there will always be attempts to obtain data through illicit means, and the ICO understands this.
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Retailers should view GDPR compliance as an opportunity to apply continuous assessments to their security practices as new threats emerge.” Compliance advice for retailers Depending on your type of business, your GDPR practises will look different. But focusing specifically on UK retailers, Barnes outlines advice for new businesses in the industry, as well as those needing to take another look at their currently GDPR setup. “Retail organisations regularly process sensitive customer data, including financial details, names and addresses. Keeping these details safe is critical to the success of retailers, as a data breach can irreversibly damage consumer trust and a retailer’s reputation, which, combined with heavy fines levied under GDPR, have the potential to cripple businesses. “Ultimately, GDPR is about a business’ understanding of what data they store, where it’s kept and having a legal reason to hold it. Retailers need to make sure all data that they store and transmit is encrypted, where access is only given to those within the organisation that need it to perform their job. Keeping systems and applications up-todate, and a well-defined password policy, will also help in this ever-evolving battle.” Barnes says that communication and information flow between the organisation and its employees are vital, so encouraging a certain level of visibility can be effective in lowering the chances of a data breach. “Retailers, and their employees, need to know what information they store needs protection under GDPR, and from there apply the appropriate security measures,” he explains. “User education is arguably the most cost-effective approach to improving the security posture of any organisation. It’s vital that personnel understand the technologies they are asked to manage and monitor. The intelligence gathered by security systems needs to be understood, so when an attack occurs, incident response plans are executed effectively and efficiently to contain the breach and all affected parties are informed of the facts as soon as possible. These need to be clearly defined, with everyone in the organisation understanding their role.” Barnes concludes: “This coming year, data protection should continue to be at the top of the priority list for retailers. Businesses must ensure that their processes stand up to scrutiny and have an open dialogue with their customers to educate them on how data is being used and ultimately protected. “Compliance is a continuous requirement and although most organisations have made a good start, there is always more to do.”
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Why 4G still reigns supreme The UK 5G launch season is in full swing, but Nick Sacke, Head of Products and IoT at Comms365, believes that it is a pale shadow of what we need...
t the time of writing, EE, Vodafone and Three have announced the availability of the UK’s first 5G networks, and O2 has announced launch plans. The new services are surprisingly limited in geographic coverage, performance and features, focusing on broadband only applications. With a significant challenges to overcome before 5G can become a business reality for UK companies it is time to set the ‘glass half empty’ promises of 5G to one side and leverage the proven quality, consistency and reliability of existing wireless networks, especially 4G, to support business communications infrastructure and growth. Land grab From businesses looking to achieve widespread IoT deployments, to those seeking a viable broadband and leased line replacement alternative or companies struggling in areas of rural connectivity deprivation, on paper, 5G appears to have all the answers. The reality today is that 5G – where it is available – is providing enhanced mobile broadband and no more. For those with compatible devices, 5G will enable voice calls and broadband internet access. Even then, the promised speeds are not being delivered – customers can expect 150-200Mbps at best – this falls short of the gigabit speeds promised with both speed and coverage variable within the launch city locations. The impact for businesses that want to make investments in high speed wireless technology, leveraging the value of repeatable, consistent, widespread and easy to use services, is that 5G is already a significant disappointment. 5G dissected While the Tier 1 network providers are promising to rapidly expand the 5G network range – with EE planning to upgrade more than 100 sites to 5G every month – this is very much a work in progress. On the plus side, the 5G network will address the capacity issues facing overloaded 4G networks, enabling millions of additional connections on existing spectrum. 5G has been touted as a viable alternative to leased lines and a chance for companies to avoid expensive fibre or copper-based Ethernet connections. Unfortunately, the promised Fixed Wireless
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Access based on ‘millimeter wave’ (FWA) – essentially very high speed connections between two points – requires significant infrastructure change. Rather than towers, FWA demands very high antenna density, with small cells (antennas) deployed on buildings, street furniture and lamp posts 10 metres apart. Network providers have overestimated the willingness of local authorities and building owners to provide the planning permission required to install antennas on lampposts and buildings. Without antenna density, FWA is not a viable, scalable option for business connectivity; at best companies will have to wait three years or more before 5G offers a viable wireless leased line alternative. Mature 4G services 5G is disappointing but companies cannot afford to postpone network investments in wireless primary and backup services indefinitely. The good news is that 4G networks are now mature – and that means both widely available and reliable. The arrival of 5G will address the burgeoning capacity issue for 4G, which is great news, and recent market price adjustments have taken 4G out of the last resort category and into a viable option for primary and resilience connectivity. 4G is proven to support VoIP and unified communication streaming. It can also be used for machine-to-machine communication. Software Defined Networking (SDN) enables 4G to be blended with other networks to deliver primary connections that deliver a reliable and affordable leased line alternative. Furthermore, although the entire IoT aspect of 5G has been shelved for now for both EE and Vodafone, with 4G, IoT is deliverable today using the unlicensed spectrum and other standards, including NarrowBand IoT and LoRaWAN, to enable mass IoT deployments. Critically, all of these services come with SLAs; networks are reliable and accessible. Essentially, it is possible today to meet business needs for affordable and consistent primary and secondary connectivity services with the existing 4G network infrastructure. While waiting for the promise of 5G to be realised, businesses can extract significant value from 4G today. And with further price disruption expected within the market, the cost model will become ever more compelling, for primary, secondary and IoT connectivity.
The channel opportunities of PC lifecycle management Nick Offin, Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations at dynabook Northern Europe, looks at how lifecycle management of the device fleet is becoming even more important, and what revenue opportunities this opens up for resellers...
rganisations today are continually looking to mobilise their workforces and equip employees with secure and productive devices. Yet at the same time, over half of technology buyers expect no increase to their budgets this year. So, while CIOs face increasing pressure to demonstrate the positive impact of technology on the bottom line, they also need to stretch budgets further and demonstrate greater sustainability within the IT department. Furthermore, any additional budget will most likely be invested in emerging workplace technologies, leaving little resource for new devices. As a result, lifecycle management of the device fleet is becoming even more important. For resellers, incorporating this as part of their offering can open up a plethora of new revenue opportunities. Channel partners need to consider how devices fit in with customers’ broader networks over the long term, and what they can do to support cost management – from device planning through to end-of-life. The PC as a Service (PCaaS) model, which is focused on making device lifecycle management more straightforward, offers a crucial means of fulfilling these long-term needs. For channel partners, partnering with vendors who offer such services enables them to deliver a more attractive package to customers, while leaning on the vendor to deliver the ongoing support required. PCaaS involves paying a monthly rate for a package of device production, configuration and management services. Prior to engaging with this model, it is crucial to assess what a customer’s employees require from devices, and to then set goals around what the device lifecycle management project should achieve. Once objectives are set with the customer and the models have been chosen, how they are configured can be a major challenge for businesses. Delivering ready-to-run devices Much needs to be done before a device is ready to be deployed. The device preparation stage offers resellers a prime opportunity to add value, by offering consultancy and configuration services. At this stage, the fleet can also be adapted to the specific network and security requirements of the business via pre-set BIOS settings. Offering
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devices which are deployment-ready enables peace of mind for the customer and alleviates pressure on the IT team. Device deployment is also a concern. All too often it can be a time-consuming and complex process. Resellers can support businesses by offering packages that include deployment services. This could include on-site installation carried out by trained vendor technicians, who can dismantle older devices, migrate data and set up new models. This removes concerns around disruption and frees time for internal IT teams. Long-term support Device downtime is a serious issue in today’s professional world – so once devices are configured and deployed, they must be managed and maintained. For flexibility, convenience, speed and cost efficiency, resellers should seek to offer PCaaS, which includes on-demand support services as standard. Examples include on-site repairs or device swap services – where a replacement is provided the next working day, or by pick up and return. Better still is a centralised portal where businesses can manage and track assets, support requests and technical information in order to sustain high-quality performance. Another crucial business consideration is security. During a cyber-attack, accidental device reformatting, or physical damage could cost businesses valuable corporate data, inflicting costs and reputational damage. A robust data recovery component is invaluable, encompassing data restoration and remote wiping in the case of lost or stolen units, and replacement hard drives. When a device has become obsolete, it’s important that it is retired in a sustainable and ecofriendly fashion. Supporting long-term goals By promoting a comprehensive device lifecycle management offering rather than simply selling the standalone device, resellers can support customers in driving down costs, improving security and enhancing sustainable practices. Leveraging device lifecycle management as part of a PCaaS-driven IT strategy can help IT managers maximise the value of their hardware. Resellers need to educate them on the benefits of considering lifetime value rather than initial cost, and to then provide the consultancy and support to deliver this.
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5G in retail: buzzword or opportunity? Kevin Murray, Managing Director of Greenlight Commerce, reveals what the retail industry can expect to see from the 5G revolution...
G is the latest advancement in the technology industry, promising to bring improvements in connectivity and completely revolutionise business processes. With the majority of the main carriers in the UK having rolled out 5G across a number of cities, it is clear that it is starting to enter the mainstream. It is believed the technology will bring with it improved bandwidth, reliability, greater speeds and reduced latency, but what can the retail industry expect to see from the 5G revolution? Technology to impress the modern customer The modern consumer expects more from retailers than ever before. Competition is fierce and retailers need to offer an experience that differentiates themselves from competitors if they are to foster customer loyalty and survive. In recent years, we have seen the high-street struggle and shops continue to close. Retailers are under increased pressure to justify the existence of physical stores, with more and more customers doing their shopping online, and one way to do this is to use technology to improve the in-store experience. The rise in customer demand for personalisation and convenience has led to retailers experimenting with different technologies to improve customer experience. Alongside artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) look set to transform the retail sector. A recent Gartner survey found that by 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store. Many customers are looking for retailers to offer a more immersive experience, with AR and VR capturing the nation’s imagination. Nowadays, customers value the retail experience just as much as they do the product itself. VR and AR technologies enable retailers to deliver a highly-immersive experience. Whereas AR enhances the users surroundings, VR allows customers to venture into an entirely different world. We have seen a number of the bigger retailers already start to introduce these technologies. Argos recently combined with Lego to launch an AR feature on the retailer’s mobile app, allowing customers to see full-scale versions of selected Lego toys before they buy them. It is important to note that these technologies are expensive and can be difficult for a retailer to roll-out. Before implementing any new technology, including AR and VR, retailers should ensure they are
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doing so for the right reason. These technologies need to be addressing either a customer problem or a customer need, and shouldn’t be introduced simply for the sake of it. A next-gen network for next-gen retail These developments are obviously extremely exciting for both consumers and retailers and represent the retail experience of the future. To date, retailers have been unable to successfully roll these technologies out because devices need to be able access and manage large amounts of data, and require a more substantial network with lower latency and more consistency. The current network has not been substantial enough to deal with this because of latency problems and a lack of consistency. 5G completely changes this. With ultra-fast speeds of 5G, frustrating buffering and lags will soon be a thing of the past. This network upgrade is going to be absolutely vital in enabling the experiences that modern consumers are demanding. It has the potential to empower retailers with innovative technologies that require more speed and reliability, and the collection of more data. These technologies are sure to build stronger, longer-lasting relationships between brand and customer. Transforming back-end operations It is not just the customer-facing side of retail that is going to be revolutionised by 5G, we are also going to witness innovative developments to the back-end. Although this won’t directly impact the customer, it will transform how customer data is handled and processed, as well as other operational aspects of retailers. These are invisible to the customer, but will massively improve their experience by increasing the speed of content delivery. It will also allow for quicker and more accurate data analysis, which will lead to more targeted and personalised marketing. The speed of 5G will also improve and simplify the supply chain for retailers. It will support constant communication and instant monitoring of an increased number of connected devices, optimising real-time feedback from back-end warehouses, logistic systems and inventory control. This ensures processes run as efficiently and smoothly as possible which in turn, gets the retailer’s product into customers’ hands quicker.
Reimagining the modern working style Bianca Nesgaard, Vice President of Global Marketing, Enterprise Solutions at Sennheiser, looks at how technology is evolving to support modern workplaces...
space per person, freely selectable “hot desks”, being able to walk ver the past two decades we have seen an evolution of around during a call instead of sitting in a square space as well as our workspaces. The traditional office layout of flexible working hours – all by-products of the open office, cubicles and private offices has become a relic of the designed to help host a diverse set of working styles, all in one past century. office. This way each employee can choose to work their way Forward-thinking companies have long aspired to a more according to their personal preferences instead of conforming to open-plan design that has changed the face of our organisational working styles enforced by traditional layouts. work environments as well as the way we work today. Sennheiser is working with organisations to address these Open offices are no longer just a trend – they are now the new challenges and ultimately to provide the tools to overcome them. norm, creating new opportunities of working together as well as Our recent The Way We Work study shows that almost a third of an office environment that is more vibrant and connected than the workforce already uses a headset as a daily tool to block ever before. out office noise, concentrate and work productively Still, every opportunity comes with a price. While without distraction. 23% of office workers say that tearing down the walls between us and our noise cancelling is one of the three most colleagues has certainly opened up new important criteria when selecting a new possibilities to stimulate team bonding and headset. Meanwhile, for those looking to boost creativity. The disposal of the cubicle “Office audio solutions boost productivity – 27% of today’s office hasn’t just brought teams closer together – it workers like to listen to music while also created consequential new challenges are a key working tool in working to block out the noise of their that can sometimes interfere with everyday co-workers. work: ranging from increased noise levels boosting efficiency and Modern employees need to be able to and a decrease in personal space, the latter productivity in the create their own quiet zone and define the of which ultimately fuels the level of noise way they want to work. While open offices throughout the day. modern work life” have many benefits, creating a quiet work Recent studies show that open workspaces environment is often-times not one of them. can result in 72% less time spent interacting in While huddle rooms and quiet areas can go some person, and instead workers are sending 56% way to help, audio devices like noise cancelling more emails – thus creating less direct interaction headsets increase focus, enhance collaboration and foster a amongst colleagues. Additionally, the increased level of modern, mobile and flexible workstyle. noise in the open office causes distractions, lack of focus and an Office audio solutions are a key working tool in boosting almost 30% decrease in productivity. Up to 30% of modern office efficiency and productivity in the modern work life. When workers state that they are dissatisfied with open workspace noise. developing our headsets, we respond to the trends and needs of the A total of 63% claim that loud colleagues are their greatest modern workplace and focus on technologies that support distraction and almost 90% say that they are more productive when flexibility, focus and productivity. Our goal is to support employees working alone. to adapt to the modern work environment and overcome the However, this isn’t cause to bring back the cubicle. At Sennheiser, challenges of the open office – this way, they can ultimately we believe in a different way. The open workspace was created as an reimagine the way they work in the long run. answer to the new needs of the modern workforce. The decrease in
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EVENTS COMPTIA EMEA MEMBER AND PARTNER CONFERENCE 2019 7th-8th October, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London
Technology is transforming our lives – making everything newer, faster, better – and to thrive in the IT industry, both staying current and seeing what’s ahead are essential. That’s why attending the EMEA conference is a must for anyone in the business of technology; whether it’s selling solutions anywhere they’re needed or training and teaching tech skills. Don’t miss this fantastic, annual learning and networking opportunity. This two-day event welcomes all organisations building, selling or influencing the adoption of technology to collaborate, partner and share best practices to prosper in this expanding ecosystem.
4th-7th November, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona
VMworld 2019 will capture the momentum of today’s rapidly changing IT environment and put it within your grasp so you can accelerate your cloud journey to support your business. Transform networking and security for speed and flexibility. Deliver digital workspaces for amazing mobile experiences. Learn from top VMware and industry experts about what’s coming next in IT. Catch up with colleagues, meet new friends, and explore ideas with 13,000 fellow attendees. Whatever you need to know, you’ll find the best information, tools, and partnerships to take IT – and your power to shape it – to the next level.
7th-10th January, various venues, Las Vegas
CES is the largest and most influential technology event on the planet. Every major and emerging industry is represented, the entire technology ecosystem gathered together in one place to conduct business. It’s the proving ground for transformative tech such as 5G, artificial
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Find out what tech and retail events you should be attending in the coming months…
intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart cities, sports, vehicle technology, digital health and more. CES showcases more than 4,500 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more; a conference program with more than 250 conference sessions and more than 170,000 attendees from 160 countries.
BETT SHOW 2020
22nd-25th January, ExCeL, London
BETT is the first industry show of the year in the education technology landscape, bringing together 800+ leading companies, 103 exciting new edtech start ups and over 34,000 attendees from the global education community. They come together to celebrate, find inspiration and discuss the future of education, as well as the role technology and innovation plays in enabling all educators and learners to thrive.
PCR AWARDS 2020
4th March, The Brewery, London
Save the date for the 2020 PCR Awards! We’ll be back at The Brewery in Central London on Wednesday 4th March to once again celebrate the very best of the UK tech and IT industry. On the night, we will recognise those that have made the biggest impact in the channel. Vendors, distributors, channel service providers, resellers and retailers will all be celebrated in front of a room of more than 500 industry members. Guests will enjoy an unmissable night of networking and hospitality as we reflect on the achievements of the channel over the past year. Read the new and improved 2020 Awards list over on page 20.
If you would like to find out more information about being a PCR Awards 2020 Partner, get in touch with Beccy Barr on 0203 143 8778 or at Beccy.Barr@biz-media.co.uk.
APPOINTMENTS QBS Distribution
QBS Distribution is increasing its channel team with the appointments of Paul Jackson and Ryan Fletcher, who have joined the company to help enable reseller partners to understand how to position the distributor’s range of software. Paul Jackson (PJ) is a channel vendor and alliances specialist with over 24 years of experience enabling software resellers to promote specialist software technologies into enterprise accounts – achieving success with companies such as Konica Minolta ProcessFlows and Sigma Software Distribution. Ryan Fletcher also joins from Konica Minolta ProcessFlows and has past experience in the channel, supporting resellers and emerging software publishers, including account management, software renewals and channel management.
The AOC/MMD sales team in the UK has strengthened its ranks with the appointment of Cheryl Wheeler as its new retail sales manager. Having held managerial positions at major UK distributor Exertis for over two decades, Wheeler brings a strong sales background to AOC and MMD. At Exteris, she was the business manager for monitors for the last seven years, covering desktop monitors, large format displays, and projectors sales in B2B as well as retail channels. Wheeler will be working with UK customers in both online and storefront sales, including companies such as Dixons Retail, Amazon, John Lewis, Shop Direct, and ao.com. “I am so excited to start a new position after such a long time with Exertis. I know the UK team very well already and look forward to achieving strong growth and building the business to new heights,” said Wheeler.
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This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...
Lexmark has appointed Tom Cavanagh to the newly-created role of senior vice president of new business development. Cavanagh will build and lead a global new business development division charged with leveraging growth opportunities for Lexmark beyond its core imaging business. He will serve on the Lexmark executive team, reporting directly to Lexmark president and CEO Allen Waugerman. Cavanagh comes to Lexmark from Eastman Kodak Company, where he served as vice president and chief customer officer in the Intellectual Property Solutions Division, focused on advanced materials and 3D printing. “I’m excited to join Lexmark in this new role. I look forward to leveraging Lexmark’s technology expertise in new areas of growth for the business,” commented Cavanagh.
Brother UK has appointed a sustainable development coordinator to a new full-time role supporting end-users that are working to reduce their environmental impact. Gemmer Crozier will work with channel partners and their customers to improve their knowledge of how Brother solutions and services can support a greener business. She takes up the new post after originally joining Brother as an apprentice following her college studies. The position will also involve collaborating with Brother’s recycling facility in Ruabon, Wales, to encourage more of Brother UK’s business customers to use and recycle Brother print cartridges. In the year to March 2019, more than 145,000 toner cartridges were returned to Brother by UK customers free of charge, up 3% on the previous 12-months. “Sustainability is part of Brother’s DNA. It’s the foundation on which we grow our business, while being a key consideration when developing new products and solutions,” said Crozier. “It’s fast becoming a necessary requirement for our channel partners’ common success too. We’ve supported some resellers on tenders where up to 40% of the total score was owed to responsible business practices.”
October 2019 | 15
“We’ve always had really close trading ties with retail. The channel is extremely important to us”
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The smartest link TP-Link’s Retail Sales Director Lino Notaro, tells Laura Barnes about the manufacturer’s IFA 2019 product announcements and how it’s helping consumers to make the right buying decisions when it comes to expanding their smart device setup...
ounded in 1996, TP-Link is well known throughout the world for its networking products. As the connected lifestyle continues to evolve, the manufacturer has been expanding its offerings to include a robust smart home range. This year’s IFA show was the perfect opportunity for TPLink to showcase exactly what it does best, and introduce a number of new products that take advantage of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard and open up its smart home range. PCR caught up with Lino Notaro, the firm’s retail sales director, to discuss the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, how it values its online and offline retail partners, and what’s in store for the smart home market’s future. Tell us a bit about your current role at TP-Link. I am currently retail sales director, heading up a small team. Up until recently we have been looking after and driving the traditional retail sector, handling accounts like Argos, Maplin and the supermarkets. Over the last month or so we’ve also inherited the ecommerce channel. So my team now handles traditional bricks and mortar retail as well as ecommerce, like Ebyuer, Scan, Overclockers and the like. What new products did TP-Link launched at this year’s IFA show? We launched products in two main areas. One was the new AX/Wi-Fi 6 range of routers, range extenders and PCIe cards. On another area of our stand we launched our new sub-brand of smart home products by the name of Tapo, in addition to our cards and cameras. We launched a new Wi-Fi wall socket and a couple of security cameras under the Tapo name. What’s nice to see is that we actually had dedicated pods that were manned by
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either an Amazon rep or a Google rep. That really helped to properly demonstrate our compatibility with those two voice platforms in the smart home area. How was the show overall for you guys? It was a really good show. On our stand we had screens showing how TP-Link’s offerings can benefit people’s lifestyles and I had a number of really great meetings with UK retailers out there. It’s always a brilliant opportunity to show them the products that were on display and demonstrate them in an environment they are supposed to be in. Do you think the smart home has really hit the main stream yet or is there still some more education needed around its benefits and features? I don’t think we’re anywhere near market penetration right now. There are lots of consumers that are still wondering about the smart home area and the benefits it brings. This means there are lots of opportunities to educate consumers on these types of products. I recently read that since 2016, 10% of people are planning to make a smart home product purchase in the next two years, and that’s doubled in just three years, so the amount of buyers are increasing. Do you think it’s down to the brands or the retailers to educate customers? Retailers play a key part in getting the message of convenience and lifestyle benefits across. I still believe that whether it’s offline or online retail, consumers are looking to those channels to self-educate. Obviously brands make their own noise too, but retail is in a perfect position to deliver the final piece of that message.
October 2019 | 17
A closer look at TP-Link’s AX50 Wi-Fi 6 smart router
For example, we’re about to launch a new range of smart home products into Curry’s and we’ve just about finalised a new counter-top display, which showcases the new products and delivers the right product information that consumers need so they can make the right purchasing decision. How important is the retail channel to TP-Link and how are you helping your partners sell your products? It is really important to us. We’ve always had really close trading ties. I’ve been at TP-Link for nearly six years and the brand was already in the retail space before I arrived. It’s nearly 10 years that TP-Link and been trading with online and offline retailers. That channel is extremely important to us and smart home is very much a consumer product that lends convenience to people on a daily basis. Our objective – depending on the channel – is that we want to be in-store and we want to help create informative material that is as interactive as possible to help shoppers engage with our products, learn and make the right decisions. Can you tell us a bit about Wi-Fi 6 and how it’s going to boost the smart home? The Wi-Fi Alliance has now decided to give numbers to new
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“Consumers are looking to retailers to selfeducate. Obviously brands make their own noise too, but retail is in a perfect position to deliver the final piece of that message” Wi-Fi technology, which means consumers can relate to them a bit more. Most people don’t really know what AC or AX means, but when you start giving numbers to them it becomes much clearer – a bit like how smartphone
TP-Link’s exhibition space at this year’s IFA show
manufacturers use numbers. So, AC was Wi-Fi 5 and the new AX is Wi-Fi 6. There are a few different elements to Wi-Fi 6. As consumers add more Wi-Fi devices – laptops, tablets, smart TVs etc – and then bolt on a plethora of smart sockets and thermostats and bulbs, Wi-Fi 6 can better cope with managing and feeding Wi-Fi to all these devices without the latency we see nowadays. We’re seeing things like Amazon’s Alexa taking longer to reply to questions and Netflix pausing for five seconds while it buffers – Wi-Fi 6 will contribute to eradicating all of that. The other things about Wi-Fi 6 is that it has power saving attributes as well. If you have smartphones and tablets that are part of your network, it’s less draining on these devices. Currently, there’s a constant pinging between devices and the router saying “I’m here, give me Wi-Fi”. This uses battery power, but that back and forth can be reduced somewhat with Wi-Fi 6. Do you have any predictions for where the smart home market is heading in the near future? After observing some of the trends at IFA and what’s going on in the market, my first thought is that I think we’ll start to
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see cars with smart speakers built into the dashboard. I read a few months ago that BMW were looking to develop this and work with Amazon and Google. Imagine leaving work, getting into your car and asking Alexa to switch on the lights and the coffee machine at home. You won’t need to mess around with your smartphone while driving and you’ll have things set up at home for when you get in. That’s one element of where the smart home is heading. I also feel that geo-fencing is going to come into it. You can pre-programme some actions in your home. So when you penetrated your designated geo-fence, whether that’s five or 10 miles from home, that action will cause your smart home tech to switch on without even having to look at your smartphone, or even remember to tell it to do anything. Smart speakers are becoming a very important part of the smart home market. Once you start integrating speakers with a smart plug, a smart bulb or your car, it will very quickly become a part of everyday life and you can’t imagine doing without it. I also saw at IFA some smart plants. So in your home and in your garden, smart home technology is able to look after the plants, cover them up during winter, that sort of thing. All of these new applications and ideas are extending the smart home to so many other areas.
October 2019 | 19
PCR Awards 2020
The PCR Awards will be back at The Brewery, London on Wednesday 4th March to celebrate the retailers, resellers, distributors, channel service providers and vendors that have made the biggest impact on the channel over the past year. 2020 is the perfect opportunity to revamp the look and feel of the awards, with a new logo and style. You will also notice a few new awards this year, highlighting the changing tech and IT channel landscape. So have a read through what’s in store for the PCR Awards 2020 and how you can make sure your company is part of this unmissable channel event...
THE 2020 AWARDS RETAILER CATEGORY System Builder Online Retailer Independent Retailer RESELLER CATEGORY SMB Reseller Corporate VAR MSP Specialist
Hardware Distributor Consumer Electronics Distributor New for 2020 – Distributor Of The Year (Sub £150m Turnover) New for 2020 – Distributor Of The Year (£151m+ Turnover)
CHANNEL SERVICES CATEGORY Dealer Services Marketing & PR
VENDOR CATEGORY Software & Services Vendor Peripherals & Accessories Vendor Components Vendor PC Vendor Networking Vendor New for 2020 – Start Up Vendor Of The Year
DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY Software & Services Distributor
CHOSEN BY THE PCR TEAM PCR Company Of The Year
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PCR Awards 2020
WHAT OUR 2019 WINNERS HAD TO SAY: Mike Barron, UK Channel Director, Synaxon UK: “A fantastic evening spent catching up with old friends (and foes!). A great opportunity to network with senior industry execs.” Craig Hume, Utopia: “The PCR Awards is a key night in Utopia’s calendar. With glitz, glamour and the coolest people in our industry all in one evening, it’s not to be missed! Our success at these awards went down a storm with our clients and vendors. My team and I have loved being involved with the awards over the years and as the old saying goes, “You have to be in it to win it!” Hope to see you there in 2020.” Paul Nolan, SCAN: “It feels exciting to win. Every year we attend because it’s such a good networking event, so this is great.” Jim Knee, Kingston Technology: “This event is fantastic. We’ve attended for the past few years because it’s great for networking. Winning is amazing. We’re really pleased because there was stiff competition this year. It’s also great to see four of our customers win other awards tonight.” Anthony Ryder, Geeks on Wheels London: “I’ve never won an Oscar, but I can imagine this is what it feels like! We thought we didn’t stand a chance, but here we are. This is a great event and great for networking.” Exertis: “It has been great to see people coming out and celebrating success. Tonight shows that the industry is still very strong.” Melissa Rambridge, Sweethaven: “Sweethaven has been through quite a journey over the last five years so to get MSP Specialist is quite an honour. This is a fantastic networking event, and it’s great to see so many friends from the channel.”
SPONSORSHIP Every year, PCR partners with some of the most important names in the industry. We have a number of sponsorship opportunities across our categories, throughout the awards dinner and at our aftershow party. Whatever your budget, there’s a way for you to make your business visible at the PCR Awards 2020. Contact Beccy Barr on 07703 503101 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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October 2019 | 21
Partner Content from EZVIZ
EZVIZ â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Smart Home Guardians
n this smart home industry, we all experienced an initial period where technology was launched with little market demand or understanding. Now, the smart home sector is one of the fastest growing markets in the consumer electronics world. EZVIZ is right at the forefront of technology and quality. Consumers are now fairly astute to smart home and what it has to offer, security being one of the top categories in the smart market. In this article want to cover some key points as to why your customers should think more about the security of their property and, if they have even done a risk assessment of their home or office, to think about this further and look at the lifestyle element of smart security. Security We challenge you and your customers to think about your property on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of security. How secure are your windows and doors? Do your own risk assessment and see what the outcome is. Fortunately, whatever the answer, EZVIZ has the solutions. According to some statistics out there, 87% of burglaries occur via the front door where most do not lock their doors, mostly happening at the times when you are at work or on holiday. The rise of video doorbells has been a great deterrent to this type of activity, with the ability to receive motion detection alerts via your smartphone you can now guard the front of your home and hopefully prevent crime before it happens. This leads nicely on to the exterior of your home, your rear garden and front/side areas of the house are also key zones to consider for security solutions. EZVIZ has a great range of outdoor products that not only help capture evidence, they can also help prevent potential crime from occurring in the first place. The key to camera
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security should not just be about capturing, but it should have an element of deterrence and prevention, ultimately that is the goal. Our Outdoor Floodlight not only provides a great outdoor lighting solution; it can also deter suspicious behaviour which you can either set automatically or manually via the EZVIZ app on your smartphone. This functionality applies to our Outdoor Camera too. Lifestyle We all have busy lives, the more we can do to help put our mind at rest around goings-on at home, the more we can concentrate on other pressing matters. We have had more and more demand for our Indoor Cameras from pet enthusiasts and those that have young ones. The Indoor Cams are great for monitoring your pets and kids whilst you are out. With the use of two-way audio, you can have conversations or get your dog to get off the sofa for example. Why not adapt with technology features such as IFTTT that allow you to combine other products. For example, if motion is detected via an EZVIZ camera, have it linked to a smart light so when you walk in the room it lights up, or perhaps you are on holiday and want to give the impression that someone is in the house. These are some key points which can be re-iterated through great content and education on your siteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s product page/landing pages and in-store displays. Ensure your end users have what they need to learn more and understand the category and products whilst pushing the ideology around the need for smart security and the lifestyle approach. For more information on our products head to www.ezvizlife. com/uk. To stock EZVIZ products please contact Exertis UK for more information.
Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…
10 years A recent report from Lenovo has suggested that people feel “younger, healthier and more emotionally connected” when using tech. The research found that technology made UK respondents feel 10 years younger on average.
Kaspersky has found that 87% of parents don’t restrict how much time their young children spend online, despite the fact that more than nine in ten (92%) children aged between five and 15 go online using any type of device.
Young Brits are calling for tighter rules and awareness around the use of smartphones and social media in schools, with Nominet finding that 68% want lessons on how to safely use social media and messaging apps included in the national curriculum.
1.5 million Research by Symantec has uncovered malicious apps on the Google Play Store that are sneakily auto-clicking ads to generate a profit. Two popular apps in the store, which have a collective download count of over 1.5 million, have been found to be participating in this behaviour – unnoticed for nearly a year before being discovered by Symantec. www.pcr-online.biz
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6 million According to the Living Wage Foundation, around six million employees in the UK earn below the real Living Wage. That’s nearly a quarter of the country’s workforce and includes nearly a third of women working in the UK.
October 2019 |
The future is smart
With the smart home marketing continuing to rapidly expand, Laura Barnes speaks to channel experts to find out how the connected home will evolve in the future...
he global market for smart home devices is expected to grow 23.5% year-over-year in 2019, according to the latest research by IDC. That equates to nearly 815 million device shipments. Couple this with a report from Go Compare that shows one in four UK households are turning to smart tech to secure their homes, and it’s easy to see why so many companies in the channel are getting in on the action. “Driving the market’s growth over the next few years is a combination of downward pressure on prices from intensifying competition, rising adoption of smart assistants, and rising consumer awareness of the conveniences, costs savings, and energy reductions that smart home devices provide,” says Adam Wight, senior research analyst of consumer IoT at IDC. So, what are some of the most exciting advancements in the smart home sector at the moment? PCR spoke to distributor Exertis and smart security brand EZVIZ to find out. “In this industry we experienced an initial period where technology was launched with little market demand or understanding. Now the smart home sector is one of the fastest
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growing markets in the consumer electronics world,” Simon Buckingham, brand and marketing manager at EZVIZ, tells PCR. “Subsequently, the most significant development is now happening after the launch of each hardware. The real advances are in software iterations where true benefits are derived in things like our smartphone interfaces.”
“Much of smart tech’s exciting future comes from government legislation and consumer engagement” Rod Slater, Exertis
Smart home Buckingham believes that the next big step in development will come from artificial intelligence (AI). “The products we showcased at IFA 2019 demonstrated how a camera can differentiate between humans and cars, whilst not being distracted by irrelevant environmental factors, such as leaves or birds. This improves the camera efficiency as well as giving the end user a more accurate experience, meaning you have less notifications and only focus on the things that matter. This further improves your piece of mind that your property or office is safely and efficiently guarded,” he explains. “Accuracy and reliability are key to winning the minds of consumers. For this reason, I think the many uses of AI in smart homes will become the key driver and development for the immediate future.” Rod Slater, head of smart tech and IoT at Exertis, believes that the ongoing development of smart voice-control capabilities, such as Alexa, Google and Apple’s Homekit, are key to driving acceptance of smart tech products in homes today. “The core smart home product sets are well defined: heating, security, lighting, power. They make up over 90% of smart tech sales. Consumers are voting with their wallets, for simple, hassle free, low-cost products that just work. A smart light bulb, a smart plug, a smart camera or a smart thermostat make up the vast majority of sales volumes. We are about to see the next level of smart integration take off even further as usage models are expanded with voice-enabled televisions launching this year, Echo Auto for in-car automation and smart speaker market growth with Ikea’s Symonfisk, Sonos One, Lenovo and other Tier 1 brands releasing their own voice assistants,” explains Slater. “Mesh wireless will become even more important as smart voice capabilities are being built into the mesh access points with products like Netgear’s Orbi Voice. These products combine a smart speaker and a Mesh Wi-Fi access point in a single device that only requires a single power socket. Reducing complexity and simplifying the proposition is a key feature for consumers and manufacturers need to capitalise on the growth opportunity presented by our desire for convenient and helpful smart products. The more complex the proposition, the greater the consumer friction and the less units sell,” he says. Securing the future Looking ahead to 2023, and IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Smart Home Device Tracker forecasts more than 1.39 billion devices will be shipped out. As technology rapidly advances, tomorrow’s smart home products may look vastly different to what’s on offer today. So, what new developments are we in store for? And how big can the smart home market conceivably get? EZVIZ’s Buckingham notes the innovations showcased at this year’s IFA indicate where the market is heading. “At IFA, it was clear to see the adaptations of smart home moving into other lifestyle and activity areas, such as smart vacuums, pet feeders, curtains, and door locks,’ he says. “Some of these technologies have been developing for a while, but now we are beginning to see signs of critical mass adoption. Consumers are beginning to appreciate purpose which has been driven by live demonstrations with clear explanation of how they
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“Accuracy and reliability are key to winning the minds of consumers. I think AI in smart homes will become the key driver and development for the immediate future” Simon Buckingham, EZVIZ work and why you might need one. In simple terms, they have become relevant for consumers.” Buckingham also saw some applications for care and health, which he says will benefit from the progression of 5G in the near future, as well as the ever improving connectivity to Wi-Fi. Smart tech is even making its way into the garden. “One thing that caught my eye recently are the smart garden pods to help grow herbs and other plants in any environment. I love growing my own food, so I see this as a game changer,” he enthuses. “Our lives will be so different in 10 or 20 years where many things will be automated and robotic, improving the lifestyle and potentially health of people. Quite frankly, with all of the integrations and adaptations, I cannot see a limit to the market, but what I do know is this market is growing and it is accelerating fast! Personally, it’s great to be involved in some capacity and certainly with a company that is leading within the market.” With a focus on the more immediate future, Exertis’ Slater says we’re in store for “more devices, lower costs, homogenisation of the technology to simplify the proposition, and the rapid switch to renewable energy”. He explains: “Consumer engagement increases exponentially when the proposition engages around an area the consumer is already familiar with. Much of smart tech’s exciting future come from government legislation and consumer engagement. Government legislation is driving the adoption of EV chargers on new home builds, the move away from gas central heating towards electrical heating, and smart meters are all contributing to a growing awareness of consumers’ energy needs and usage. Products that tap into a desire to control energy costs are already successful delivering voice driven convenience to consumers.” Slater concludes: “The changing energy landscape in the UK driven by legislation, increasing consumer engagement with smart voice assistants and our desire for simpler more beautiful homes are collectively creating a fast growing, vibrant smart tech market category. These changes will be embraced by consumers and manufacturers and as ever, we at Exertis are keeping our finger on the pulse, looking for new smart tech brands and products that tap into these changes.”
October 2019 | 25
For a chance to be included in this year’s list, email PCR editor Laura Barnes at email@example.com before Monday 7th October with the subject line “Women in Tech Submission” and include the following information:
Who you are nominating (or if you’re nominating yourself) • Which company they work for • Full job title of the person being nominated • Why they should be considered (what great/impressive/inspiring things they have achieved over the past year) • Direct email for the person being nominated • Headshot of the person being nominated
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With nearly 2,000 exhibitors, 245,000 visitors and a new all-time high for international attendance, there was a lot on show at this year’s exhibition. Gekko Field Marketing’s Daniel Todaro rounds up some of the most impressive tech to catch his eye at IFA 2019...
ow, what another great IFA. In its 59th year, the show exceed last year’s 1,800+ exhibitors and 244,000+ attendees and continued to be cemented in the calendar as the leading showcase of the technology industry for trade and consumers. The consumer goods market in Europe is significant and for the first half of 2019 was worth €450bn, down 2% and forecasted to remain flat in the second half at €1.011tn. However, the stats still define Europe as the second largest technology market with a 25% share, behind China at 27% with North America third with a 19% share. The speed of change in product innovation, and the increase in channels to sell these products in line with customer needs, is not losing pace. While there was no great fanfare of a new technology announcement, what was evident was how innovation and invention are evolving into the mainstream. This included the next generation of Web Operating Systems, 5G devices and AI developments, all designed to achieve a more proactive ecosystem which enables all devices and appliances in the home to be connected more efficiently. One of the key focuses this year more than ever was the prevalence of voice control / AI controlled products. Almost
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every brand and category has either one or both of the two leading voice assistants becoming inbuilt and connected, increasing the smart home ecosystem across almost every device, MDA and wearable. The adoption of AI amongst all age groups is on the increase with 31% of millennials owning three or more connected devices and rapidly increasing across all generations as ‘our’ trust increases in the technology and privacy fears are addressed through tougher regulatory measures. Apparently it would take you on average 73 days to read all the Ts & Cs you’ve signed up for online and even then we don’t have a clue what we’ve agreed to. Tougher regulation is essential to protect our data and how brands use the data we willingly offer up. The smart home market is growing, but for many, the smartphone is still key when controlling smart home elements. However, when looking at energy and lighting controls, 32% use a smart speaker. Whilst 15% of UK consumers say it is “essential” for new smart home devices to connect with a smart speaker/ home hub, 32% say “I would be open to trying shopping via voice and a smart speaker”, whereas only 20% say “shopping by voice with a smart speaker would be much more convenient than the ways I shop currently”.
October 2019 | 27
Acer launched open gaming community platform Planet9 at IFA 2019
JBL who have shipped over 100 million speakers globally and launched the #100mSmiles campaign made clear their intentions to dominate by understanding the market better than many, having identified that 70% of consumers would like an audio device with the possibility to control their environment to create the right ambience while listening to music. They also had a nod with ‘green’ credentials in the smart device category, which may be a first, launching the Flip 5 Ocean & Forest, a connected speaker made from 90% recycled plastic. LG were really rather forward thinking at this year’s IFA Future Talk and identified the ‘silver generation’ as a potential growth area for technology, however it accepts that trust within this generation is a barrier. It also focused on the need for simplicity, which is self-evident from products that were once considered cutting edge and are now defunct. Thinking about how difficult it was to program a VCR. It was a challenge and now this challenge is eradicated because we just talk to the devices to fulfil the same function. The connected market is on the increase, no question and this extends to white goods with 11.4% of all MDA’s sold in Western Europe being connected, up from 4.8% in the same period back in 2016. When you consider that in Q4 2018 connected MDAs in Asia Pacific accounted for 26.5% of all MDAs sold, there is still growth opportunities for brands and retailers in the European market. There’s been a lot of hype around 5G and this was also evident at IFA 2019, and while autonomous vehicles will rely on the
28 | October 2019
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technology in the future, more immediately 5G is a transformative technology for the home. As it’s spearheading a multi-dimensional world connecting appliances, brands and people in real time with its fast bandwidth and reduced latency. Take a look around your home. There’s already numerous appliances that rely on a strong wireless connection to work, from virtual assistants to laptops – and without it everything comes to a halt. 5G will provide an alternative to fixed wireless internet making things connect quickly, nicely and simply. From rural areas where broadband speeds are poor to urban areas where speeds can suffer from congestion; 5G will enhance the possibilities for a smarter home, streets, towns and cities. Autonomous vehicles were more evident this year and as we draw closer to the reality that we may get driven rather than drive ourselves, acceptance is increasing. In essence cars will become
“Autonomous vehicles were more evident this year, and as we draw closer to the reality that we may get driven rather than drive ourselves, acceptance is increasing” www.pcr-online.biz
Old and new: Sony showed off its new Andriod TV as well as the 40th anniversary of the humble Walkman
more than a means to get from A to B, enabling the passenger to do more. An interesting take on this reality, again by LG, was asking what are we going to do with our time whilst being transported? Well LG want to entertain you by making that now redundant windscreen become a TV screen that you can cast to and watch, work, play or shop. Imagine being driven autonomously and be surrounded by the convenience of technology that enables you to carry on as you would do at home or in the office. The safety concerns are evident as highlighted by Tyron Louw, Research Fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds: “Nobody knows for sure how the world will look in five years, yet we are all under pressure to prepare for that future. Driverless cars merge two imperfect systems - humans and automation – to anticipate new types of road accidents.” However, with the advent of 5G, autonomous vehicles on our streets, not just in major cities, is certainly not fantasy and definitely reality within the next decade. The consensus at SHIFT, the two-day convention at IFA Berlin exploring the Future of Mobility was clear: “Electric vehicles will be a key part of the future of mobility, but they are not the only solution. Instead, smart cities and autonomous vehicles will be key components of our “mobility-as-a-service” future, where cars are just one component of a broad mix of transport modes that we are using. “While there was no doubt among participants that autonomous vehicles would soon become reality, they were split on how this would affect the world’s car culture.”
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Other trends away from true innovation saw many brands tapping into the increasing esports market. Acer launched Planet9, an open gaming community platform and others have negotiated tenuous link ups such as Beko with League of Legends and Samsung with Fortnite. All no doubt designed with a view to ride the increasing esports wave and appeal to Millennials and Generations Z and Alpha. The global market for gaming hardware is on the rise as a result of its appeal and new ease of access assisting in a forecasted 14% increase in 2019 with an estimated value of €12.4bn. Whilst IFA is all about innovation and showcasing the future, I must admit I do enjoy a bit of nostalgia and my favourite throwback product came from Sony with the Walkman 40th Anniversary edition. A welcome reminder from Sony on how they as the innovators once changed how we listened on the move and created a category in the process that everybody copied and developed to be better or worse depending on your opinion. IFA is not just about showcasing technology, it’s also about defining how we as human beings could or will live better lives through the adoption and acceptance of innovation. Long may IFA continue to enable and encourage the creativity of brands to define the technology of the future. Gekko is a full service field marketing agency, specialising in connecting brands with consumers in retail throughout the UK and Ireland. Find our more at www.gekko-uk.com
October 2019 | 29
WHAT IMPACT HAS THE SMART TECH SECTOR HAD ON YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS? As we see more and more smart home products enter the market, what impact are they having on tech retailers and resellers? Are customers going to them directly for new smart tech, or is the sector providing new opportunities for those in the business of setting up and repairing gear? IT channel community Tech For Techs asks its members… JASON BASSETT, CORRILAN IT CONSULTANCY LTD https://www.corrilan.com “We find that most clients approach us to setup and configure tech devices in their homes and businesses that they have already purchased elsewhere. Unfortunately, we have also found that when we have configured devices, such as a voice assistant, the client thinks that it can do more out of the box than it actually does. For example, setting up a standard Alexa for a client, they often think they can control their house lighting, kettle, stereo etc. without needing to purchase additional hardware or
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subscriptions – a failing on the marketing side of such tech devices it seems.” ◆◆◆
RICHARD OVERFIELD, RL SUPPLIES LTD www.rlsupplies.co.uk “We have more customers coming to us concerned about smart tech than we do wanting to purchase items or have them configured. The main concern is with smart devices listening to conversations and tracking their usage and passing personal information
to third parties. Privacy is the main concern with smart devices.” ◆◆◆
CAROLINE HOWELL, PUTERTUTOR https://www.putertutor.co.uk “I offer smart tech set up as a service and have set up a fair few Alexa, Google Home and various pet cams etc. I‘m always asked my opinion, and I tell them all the same... not in my home! Shhhh, don’t tell them I recently got a Google Home Mini!”
they are easy to do. Normally, all the consumer needs to do is plug the device in and scan the QR code with a phone. Consumers also seem a bit wary about the products with a lot of press coverage about how the devices are used to gather personal information. We have also found consumers wary of the products because they don’t understand them, or have bought one product in the past expecting it to be able to take over the whole house and not realising they need other devices to connect to all the other items they want to control. On top of all that, there are also security concerns where devices are not getting updated to fix flaws that hackers and criminals can exploit.”
SIMON PARKES, FZN SOLUTIONS http://www.fznsolutions.co.uk “I get asked but I stopped call-outs. Some of this Wi-Fi tech is a nightmare. One day it talks, next it refuses. I’ve found some tech that doesn’t like being switched off so it obtains a new IP then removes itself from existence. I’m not getting anyone wanting to network with their toaster or kettle yet. Most struggle with their phones!” ◆◆◆
PHILIP GRIFFITHS, TECH FOR TECHS www.TechForTechs.co.uk “Most independent stores struggle with selling smart home products, possibly due to main distributors not stocking these items. It’s not often we get people wanting smart products setting up, as in most cases
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TECH FOR TECHS Launched in January 2018, Tech for Techs (TFT) is a new community for technicians of all kinds, including on-site call out services, retailers, resellers, managed service providers, vendors and distributors. Free to join, TFT is run by the team behind retailer Chips Computers and offers up insight and information on the industry, as well as product reviews, price comparisons, free directory listings and more. Visit www.techfortechs.co.uk for more information.
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Smart Home From light bulbs and security cameras to routers and speakers, we’ve rounded up everything needed to create the ultimate smart home…
EZVIZ Full HD Indoor Cam Specs: Micro SD card support up to 256GB, motion detection, anti-flicker, dual-stream, heart beat, mirror image, password protection, 1920 x 1080 max resolution. “This is where smart home security meets sharp night vision. Designed for simple and quick installation, the Indoor Cam’s super night vision safeguards every corner – even in places without illumination. Get better night vision at increased distances with the Indoor Cam and enjoy round-the-clock protection. The advanced infrared LED lights along with an upgraded optical conﬁguration means that even in dim light, you can still see up to 12 meters.” Contact: Exertis
TP-Link Archer AX50 Specs: Wi-Fi 6 compatible, transmits up to 575 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and up to 2400 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, offers a 75% reduction in latency. “As smart homes become more mainstream and more connected devices reach the market, increased pressure is added to one single network that can mean smart devices become less responsive. The Archer AX50 future-proofs your home networks by providing 4X greater capacity to connect up to 256 devices. Advanced technologies, such as OFDMA and MUMIMO, quadruple the connection capacity in high-density scenarios compared to standard 802.11ac routers.” Contact: TP-Link
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HomeGuard Heat-Sensing HD CCTV Kit Specs: 8 channel 1080p DVR, 4 x 1080p PIR motion and heat detection, fully weatherproof CCTV cameras, 25m night vision, 7m PIR detection, 1TB HDD, HomeGuardSafe app. “The HomeGuard Heat-Sensing HD CCTV Kit features HomeGuard’s smart detect PIR heatsensing technology to reliably detect heatgenerating moving objects, such as people, large animals and cars. With more accurate motion detection users have more reliable notifications and recording, eliminating false triggers such as falling leaves, bugs, rain and more, saving hard drive space and playback time. 1TB HDD included.” Contact: VIP UK
Tado° Smart Thermostat Specs: Compatible with 95% of central heating systems, comes with tado° Internet Bridge, 2 sticky pads, 3 AAA batteries, 2 wall mounting screws, 2 wall plugs, labels for wiring, UK power supply, USB cable, Ethernet cable. “The tado° Smart Thermostat replaces an existing room thermostat or communicates wirelessly with the boiler via the included Extension Kit. The Extension Kit also enables you to control your hot water. The Smart Thermostat Starter Kit with Hot Water Control is required for homes with a hot water tank to control it via the tado° app. It is also required for homes that either have a wireless thermostat or no thermostat at all.” Contact: Exertis
Flic Hub Starter Kit Specs: Connect up to 63 Flic Buttons over Bluetooth, low energy, works over Wi-Fi or by using an ethernet cable, Wi-Fi range up to 50m. “With the Flic Hub you can connect all your smart home devices and trigger complex functionality with a simple push of a button. No need to go through your phone again and it is a one-time setup and then your entire family can control your smart home. Flic Hub works as a Smart Home Gateway and it works with smart home appliances and services such as Philips Hue, Sonos, Lifx, IKEA Tradfri, Spotify, WeMo, Wink and much, much more. So, you can easily automise your routines – for instance in the morning, turn off the alarm, start the morning playlist, roll up your blinds and turn the coffee maker on – all with the push of a button.” Contact: CMS Distribution
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Hama Wi-Fi LED Lightbulbs and Ceiling Lights Specs: Most standard shapes and fittings available, connects to home Wi-Fi network via the Hama Smart Solution app, bulbs can be controlled simultaneously, 16 million colour combinations, dimmable, ‘Works with Alexa’ and ‘Works with Google’ certified, IFTTT compatible, colour temperature: 2700K. “Connecting to a home Wi-Fi network, Hama LED Smart Bulbs can be controlled wirelessly from the free ‘Hama Smart Solution’ app or via Alexa or Google voice assistants. Effortlessly create and control entire home or office lighting set-ups from your mobile device, adjust brightness and set the mood with over 16 million colour settings. IFTTT compatibility allows Hama smart lighting to be fully integrated within the smart home environment, with inclusion in pre-set voice routines (e.g. ‘Good morning’ turns on lights) and simultaneous triggering alongside other ‘smart’ devices.” Contact: Hama UK
EZVIZ 3MP Video Doorbell Contact: Night vision up to 5m/16ft, 60Hz @ 30fps frame rate, built-in omnidirectional microphone, built-in loud speaker, supports microSD card up to 128GB. “EZVIZ’s Doorbell is a 3MP Wi-Fi Smart Doorbell that lets you see who’s there from head to toe and even talk to them when you are not home. Connect it to your smartphone to keep your home safe. Even a tiny package on the ground is easily captured by the Video Doorbell, thanks to its 180° vertical field of view and high-quality 3 Megapixel video.” Contact: Exertis
TP-Link Kasa Spot Pan Tilt Indoor Camera Specs: 15fps frame rate, 1080p video streaming, 360° horizontal and 118° vertical view range. “The Kasa Spot Pan Tilt indoor security camera is perfect for wide-open living spaces and can rotate to cover multiple points in your room. With 360° rotational and 118° vertical views, the pan tilt camera can monitor every angle of any room. Keep an eye on what’s important to you in real-time from anywhere with the Kasa Smart app. Even stream live video to any Alexa or Google Assistant supported display, like a Fire TV, Echo Show or Chromecast.” Contact: Spire Technology
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Roomba i7+ Specs: 3-stage cleaning system, dual multi-surface rubber brushes, 10X suction, maps and adapts to your home using Imprint Smart Mapping technology. “The Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal takes convenience to a new level – automatically emptying into an enclosed, disposable bag that holds 30 robot bins, so you don’t have to think about vacuuming for weeks at a time. Wherever you are, you can control when, where, and how your robot cleans from the iRobot HOME App for a truly customised clean. With the Roomba i7+, users can clean specific rooms by name with a voice command.” Contact: iRobot
Philips Hue Smart Bulb Specs: 16 million colours, works with Alexa and Google Assistant, sync light with music, movies and games with the Philips Hue Bridge. “This product works out of the box with the free Philips Hue Bluetooth app. Simply screw in your new bulb and connect to the Bluetooth app for in room smart lighting control. Choose from 16 million colours to create the perfect ambiance for film nights, parties, bedtime stories, or to just sit back and unwind.” Contact: Exertis
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Sector Guide Hama Sirium 1000ABT Smart Speaker Specs: 2 x 1.75” full range speaker, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, integrated rechargeable battery, Alexa Voice control (far-field microphone), access to popular streaming services (Amazon Music, Spotify, TuneIN Radio), LED indicators, 6-8 hour battery life, control via Hama Smart Audio app. “Despite its smaller and lighter frame, the combined 2 x 1.75” full range might of the Hama Sirium 1000ABT smart speaker means it sounds far from infantile. Equipped with integrated rechargeable battery, this pint-sized package of acoustical prowess is travel-ready and raring to go for an impressive 6-8 hours of portable playback, controlled wirelessly across a home Wi-Fi network via the Alexa enabled far-field mic, or from smartphone or tablet device with the Hama Smart Audio app. Swiftly access popular streaming services with a single command. Where no wireless network exists, the Bluetooth 4.0 connection acts as backup, with no need to ever suspend play when away from home.” Contact: Hama UK
EZVIZ Outdoor Floodlight Specs: Dual 2500 LM LED lights, 270-degree motion detection, night vision up to 18 metres, FHD1080p, supports MicroSD cards up to 128GB. “Light up dark spots and add security to outdoor areas around your house with a powerful full-HD security camera armed with ultra-bright lights and defence. Professional installation recommended. With dual 2500 LM LED lights, the Floodlight brightens up your way home and illuminates every dark corner of your front porch, backyard, and anywhere else that needs light.” Contact: Exertis
BullGuard Premium Protection Specs: Proactively assesses the entire network and every device on it 24/7, automatically performs a deep scan and a status check on new devices. “Home networks have greatly expanded with the increasing number of smart devices people are adding. It’s well known that many smart devices lack good security features. In fact, many only provide a default password and user name and that’s it. This is why the new Home Network Scanner feature in BullGuard Premium Protection is so important. It makes sure consumers stay in control of their network and smart devices by monitoring new devices which try to connect to the network and providing an overview of all current or previously connected devices, while highlighting those that might expose a network to external threats.” Contact: Spire Technology, Target Components, VIP UK, Centerprise, Micro Warehouse
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Sector Guide TCP Smart Wi-Fi UK Extension Lead Specs: 4 Gang + 4 USB, 1.8m cable Length, W 370 x D 22 x H 64mm, 220V-240V voltage. “Remote control your device – the four 13A sockets are individually controllable via app or voice command Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant. Access from anywhere – control your devices globally with the TCP Smart app. Schedule and automatic setting – create on/off schedules or set auto-off timer routine to work automatically. Auto-off function turns lights and other devices off after XX minutes or hours every time you set them on. Perfect for controlling Christmas lights, table lamps, coffee machines, etc.” Contact: Exertis
Ubiquiti Amplifi with Teleport Specs: Maximum coverage of 20,000sq ft, smart LCD screen, share your network with friends and family. “The AmpliFi HD (High Density) System includes a router base station and two wireless super MeshPoints for maximum Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home. The HD Kit provides maximum wireless AC performance in an innovative and elegant design, routing the best signal between devices automatically. The router includes a smart LCD screen and the mesh points display wireless signal performance. Ubiquiti’s free Teleport app allows you to use your home Amplifi network as a VPN, meaning you can access whatever you want, anywhere in the world without being spied on or your data compromised. Additional MeshPoints are available to increase your signal and coverage further – ideal for controlling and expanding your smart home.” Contact: Target Components
TP-Link Deco P7 Hybrid Mesh Wi-Fi System Specs: 2 LAN/WAN Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 1 USB Type-C Port, 32MB flash, 256MB SDRAM, 4x internal antennas per Deco unit. “Deco P7 is a mesh router that supports powerline networking. Powerline and wireless connections work together to link Deco units, providing even faster network speeds and truly seamless coverage. Eliminate weak signal areas with whole home Wi-Fi. No more searching around for a stable connection. Want more coverage? Simply add another Deco.” Contact: Spire Technology
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SuperMini 10,000mAh portable charger Zendure has created what it’s calling the world’s smallest and lightest 10,000mAh portable charger – the SuperMini. The charger uses high-density battery cells to pack more charge capacity into a smaller, lighter form factor (3.1” x 2.2” x 1” in size and 180g in weight). While a portable charger would need three typical cells to reach 10,000mAh, SuperMini achieves the same capacity with just two of these high-density cells. The SuperMini features an 18W USB-C input/output port compatible with Power Delivery (PD) technology. There is also an 18W USB-A output port with ZEN+ 2.0 adaptive charging, which is compatible with Quick Charge 3.0 devices. Another feature of the SuperMini is pass-through charging. The charger’s USB-A output port can be used to power devices while the USB-C port is connected to a power supply. Pass-through charging has been a popular feature in Zendure products since the company’s founding in 2013. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/supermini/x#/
POWERUP 4.0 smartphone-controlled paper airplane POWERUP 4.0 promises to be the smartest, most intuitive paper plane kit its makers have ever made. The latest design makes it possible to fly with “ease and smoothness” in a variety of conditions. This model has a new onboard flight computer and two new sensors: gyro and accelerometer. POWERUP 4.0 can also auto-loop. So you can master tricks and impressive aerobatics by simply pressing a button. There’s also two high speed motors on the latest design, this means double the thrust, offering up additional manoeuvring possibilities and sharper turns. Weighing only 19g, the POWERUP 4.0 has a quick charge function, meaning it takes just 25 minutes to get a full charge, giving you 10 minutes of flight time. It has a wireless range of up to 230ft and can reach in air speeds of up to 20mph. For more information visit http://kck.st/2PS3urM
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AIKEA AI home camera AIKEA is an edge AI sensor powered by computer vision and AI that allows you to have AI-assisted intruder detection at home. AIKEA promise to “always put your privacy first”, as there is no need to send your videos to the cloud – all computing is done locally on a small PC. AIKEA also stresses that it does not collect any data. The camera uses a tiny computer (the newly released Raspberry Pi 4) and open-source software (BerryNet) to power AI inference and detect intruders. When an intruder is detected, a notification is sent to your phone. Ideal for DIY-ers, the AIKEA kit comes with everything to build your own smart camera sensor, including a cooling fan, 1080p Pi camera, 32GB SD card, a Raspberry Pi 4, and a casing for the device. For more information visit http://kck.st/2ZuWzZ4
With so much talent in the channel, it can be difficult to sift out the freshest gear and potential tech giants of tomorrow. Stay ahead of the curve with PCR’s Crowdfunding Corner…
Philips PicoPix Max projector From Philips comes a “premium, portable, cinematic experience”. With revolutionary new DLP technology that provides a sharper, more crisp image in native Full HD, PicoPix Max delivers a stunning viewing experience with superior brightness that you can enjoy at home or on the go. With 16GB of internal memory and a battery that lasts for up to three hours, all you need is your Philips PicoPix Max. No phone or laptop needed. You can also easily control apps and games with the built-in touchpad. The PicoPix Max automatically straightens for a clear, perfectlyangled project no matter the surface it’s on. Using an internal camera just below the projector’s lens, PicoPix Max adjusts the projection instantly for that perfectly-clear picture every time. The USB Type-C ports deliver fast data, audio, video and quick charging. Extend the built-in sound through Bluetooth speakers, or mirror your laptop for an impressive second screen. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/picopixmax/x#/
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Smartphones and Accessories We take a look a some of the latest smartphones for retailers to stock and the handy accessories to go with them... Samsung Galaxy Buds Specs: Bluetooth v5.0, up to 6 hours typical usage time, up to 20 hours standby time, earbud weight just 6g, compatible with Android 5.0 and up, accelerometer, hall sensor, proximity sensor, available in white, black and yellow. “With quick pairing out of the box, just pop open and pair. Galaxy Buds work right out of the box, connecting with your Galaxy devices in an instant via Bluetooth to get you up to the beat and well on your way.” Contact: Exertis
DOOGEE N20 Dual SIM Smartphone Specs: 16MP front cam, 6.3 inch display, built in optical image stabilizer, Android 9.0 Pie, triple rear cam, 4350mAh battery, MTK Helio P23 processor, 4GB-64GB mid-end configuration. “The Android 4G smartphone has a triple camera functioning at 16MP, 8MP and 8MP quality respectively with an AI portrait super depth 130° wide angle to capture the full picture. The 16MP AI FaceShaping technology allows users to capture the perfect selfie by subtly enhancing facial features to create beautiful and clear selfies whilst retaining a natural look. The N20 has Octa-core 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM whilst supporting a large 128GB SD extension so plenty of memory and storage space for users. Also featuring a Media Tek Helio P23 Processor, the phone delivers a high-efficiency performance.” Contact: Doogee
Evo Labs QI Wireless Charging Stand Specs: Compatible with most cases, 1.4x faster charging than standard wireless QI chargers. “Super efficient and time saving, the Evo Labs Dual Coil Fast Charging QI Wireless Stand is compatible with most cases, including rubberised, hybrid and plastic cases. With dual-coil wireless charging, it automatically detects when a compatible device is placed on it.” Contact: Target Components
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Sector Guide Happy Plugs Air 1 True Wireless Specs: Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, dual microphones, interchangeable silicone earbuds, sweat resistant, up to 14 hours battery (90 hours standby), 14 touch commands, ultra lightweight charging and storage case, 12mm driver, frequency: 20-20,000kHz, Sensitivity: 95dB ± 3dB, impedance: 16Ω. “The fresh, lightweight design of Happy Plugs Air 1 True Wireless makes them a fashion accessory as much as a piece of tech. With four standard and four limited edition colours to choose from, each magnetically contained within their own matching compact storage and charging case, Air 1 is the ideal pocket-sized audio style companion. True wireless Bluetooth 5.0 makes pairing a breeze, whilst interchangeable silicone earbuds and sweat and moisture resistance keep them reliably in place come rain or shine, work or play. At home, on the road or at the gym, Air 1 promises up to 14 hours of continuous music playback or calls regardless of daily routine, enduring the toughest workouts to deliver uninterrupted quality sound, no wires attached.” Contact: Hama UK
Sony Xperia 10 Smartphone Specs: 3GB RAM, 64GB eMMC internal memory, microSDXC support (up to 512GB), Android 9 Pie, Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, 6” Full HD+ screen, dual camera 13MP + 5MP. “Introducing the 21:9 experience with the Xperia 10’s 21:9 wide display. Multi-task with ease and watch films in the aspect ratio of the cinema. Capture, record and watch back videos and images in 21:9 in a design that’s made to fit your hand.” Contact: Exertis
Lume Cube Smartphone Lighting Kit Specs: Waterproof to 100 feet, Bluetooth connected with iPhone/Android app, 1,500 daylight balanced lumen LED, 60º Beam Angle, 1/4” 20 mount for tripods, rechargeable via Micro USB. “The Smartphone Lighting Kit is the perfect accessory to improve your smartphone photo and video. Whether using an iPhone or Android, this clip offers spring loaded adjustability to fit anything from the smallest to largest phones on the market. Whether filmmaking with your iPhone, FaceTiming with family, live broadcasting to your social media following or just capturing creative photo or video, Lighting opens up new opportunities to capture premium content.” Contact: CMS Distribution
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Samsung S10 Smartphone Specs: 6.1-inch AMOLED panel, 3,040 x 1,440 resolution, 8GB RAM, 128/512GB storage, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0. “Completely redesigned to remove interruptions from your view. No notch, no distractions. Precise laser cutting, on-screen security, and a Dynamic AMOLED that’s easy on the eyes make the Infinity-O Display the most innovative Galaxy screen yet. Simply touch the glass to unlock. We’ve moved security from the back of the phone to the front, fusing the Ultrasonic Fingerprint directly into the screen. A full kit of lenses built right in. The multi-camera puts pro-grade cameras in your pocket to make your photos, selfies, and videos effortlessly epic and instantly shareable. Continuously working to keep you one step ahead. Intelligence and advanced hardware learn how you use your phone, adapting to last longer and run more efficiently, giving you peak performance throughout your day.” Contact: Exertis
Asus ROG Centra Gaming In-Ear Earset Specs: USB Type-C connector, 1.25 metre cable, Active Noise Cancellation, 26g in weight, carry case, cord clip, ear fins in 3 varying sizes, silicon tips in 3 varying sizes, foam tips (one pair), quick start guide. “ROG Cetra are USB-C gaming earbuds that support multiple platforms, including mobile phones, PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch. Featuring Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology and the innovative Ambient mode, ROG Cetra lets you fully immerse yourself in your games, music and other media without distraction with the ability to let the sounds of the outside world in instantly when needed. Exclusive 10mm ASUS Essence drivers deliver optimised gaming audio and strong bass, and a choice of three sizes of silicone tips and ear fins, plus a pair of foam ear tips let you achieve a perfect fit that’s comfortable and secure.” Contact: Spire Technology
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Sector Guide Target Universal Wireless QI Mouse Pad Specs: Touch and charge, in the box: 10W wireless charger, micro-USB cable and user guide. “This Qi Wireless Charging Mouse Pad combines the convenience of Qi wireless charging right on your desk with a performance micro-textured mouse pad surface that’s optimised for gaming-grade optical and laser mice. The fast wireless charging mouse pad has two modes for all Qi-enabled devices. Fast charge modes are only available for Fast Charge supported devices, charging other Qi enabled devices at a standard speed. Some devices require the additional QI charging receiver.” Contact: Target Components
Hama Protector Cover for Apple iPhone 11 Specs: Anti-shock guard technology, compatible with wireless charging, water repellent, iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max sizes also available. “Hama Protector Covers will safeguard an iPhone where other cases and covers fail, with ultra-tough shock-absorbing outer frames that prevent unexpected damage to otherwise exposed and vulnerable edges. When a smartphone is dropped, the point of impact and therefore the greatest force is often dealt at one of its edges, causing most cracks and damage to originate there. Hama Protector Covers not only provide extensive rear protection, via a water-repellant transparent exterior, but also feature a raised, textured TPU frame for easy-grip shielding against unforeseen jolts and drops.” Contact: Hama UK
Samsung Portable SSD T5 Specs: The T5 comes in four distinct aluminium finishes – an alluring blue 500GB model, a deep black for 1TB and 2TB models, and refined rose gold and a metallic red for 500GB and 1TB models. “The Samsung Portable SSD T5 elevates data transfer speeds to the next level and unleashes a new experience in external storage. With a compact and durable design and password protection, the T5 is truly easy to carry and stores data securely.” Contact: CMS Distribution
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Kokoon Sleep Aiding Headphones Specs: Bluetooth 4.0 headphones, 350g/12.03oz weight, Flexmould Comfort patented design moulds to the shape of the user’s head, EEG sensors, 500mAh battery, 32 ohms drivers, 40 mm sound driver. “The Kokoon ANC headphones use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT techniques to help users sleep or relax by delivering a customised content experience developed for the individual using the sensor data gathered from their body and environment. For example, as a wearer falls asleep in a headphone, audio changes in response, fading out the content and introducing white noise to mask out disturbances. The system also tracks what’s working for a user then personalising content for greater effect.” Contact: Noima
Nokia 4.2 Smartphone Specs: Android 9 Pie, Qualcomm Snapdragon 439, 5.71” HD+ screen, 16/32 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot supports up to 400 GB. “Nokia 4.2 delivers a pure Android experience with Android One, running on Android 9 Pie. No clutter, no third-party software, and free monthly security updates that – amazingly – don’t slow down your phone. Add that to an AI that learns how you use the phone, plus predictive shortcutting for apps and wellbeing tools, and you’ve got an Android experience that’s hard to put down.” Contact: Exertis
Target Replacement iPhone, iPad and Samsung Screens “Target’s all-new range of replacement screens for iPhone 10 to iPhone 5, Samsung S9 to S7 and the last three generations of iPad are sourced direct from the factories and come with a 1-year warranty with UK returns (to Target themselves), next-day delivery and no minimum order, allowing repairers fast turnarounds.” Contact: Target Components
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IN MY TEAM
BT Shop The retail arm of BT discusses the growth of its smart home offerings and how it has used extensive customer feedback to recommend the products for any connect home setup... Can you tell us a bit about BT Shop’s history and what it specialises in? BT Shop is the online retail arm of BT. We sell a range of consumer technology devices, from our traditional BT home phones and flagship whole home Wi-Fi mesh network, to mobile phones, 4K Ultra HD TVs and smart home devices from some of the biggest consumer technology brands. We have everything our customers need to create their connected home, in one online store. We’ve also teamed with BT Broadband to offer customers a free ‘gift’ when they take the broadband service. Recent gift examples have included the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Fitbit Charge 3 and/or Xbox One S – all managed and fulfilled by our small but mighty team in Bolton. What product areas have you seen the most growth in over the past year? Outside of strong growth in categories across the BT product portfolio, we’ve seen our main growth in our smart home categories. Smart speakers still lead the way, but smart security has been in triple digit growth over the last 12 months thanks, in part, to awareness and advances in interoperability, but also sharper price points. While smart heating, smart lighting and smart power remain in growth, they’re quite seasonal and customers tend to need more assistance and/or installation support. Do a lot of customers ask for advice about smart home products? Smart home technology is a relatively new category for the UK market, especially compared to more legacy computing, networking and home entertainment categories, which means it’s still a new consideration for our own customers. Understandably, we’ve found that many of our customers are less confident when it comes to buying smart home products compared to other categories, which is why we really listen to their concerns and pain points, and do all we can to help them. ‘Smart home’ as a category is an opportunity
for us to grow our product portfolio and knowledge. It’s also an opportunity for our customers to build their smart home ecosystems while utilising BT’s core services – especially relevant for the customers we’ve on-boarded from our BT Broadband acquisition campaigns. We advise our customers as best we can, with help from our educational marketing approach and friendly customer service team who are always on-hand to advise them. How do you help customers pick the right smart home tech for them? We recently launched an online campaign to collect customer feedback surrounding smart home products with a survey. We wanted to find out how our customers would use smart products in the home, i.e. whether it’s for smart security, lighting or heating – or all three! We received 10,000 unique responses, which completely exceeded our expectations. We created a ‘Smart Home Scenarios’ hub that’s full of educational content, based around the stories (or scenarios) our customers provided in their feedback. We took their real stories and recommended the best smart home products that we believed best fit their scenario. For example, one customer said they’d like a smart speaker that plays music and controls the lights at home – so we suggested a smart home speaker and smart light bulbs that we knew worked together. As well as our online hub, our customer service team is there to help our customers every step of the way – whether that’s over the phone, via email or on live chat. Finally, who in the team has the best claim to fame? Duncan Rutherford, head of ecommerce at BT Shop, definitely owns this title. When he was 18, he ran his own Westcoast hip-hop site ‘DubCNN’, which is still going to this day. It was 2002 and Snoop Dogg was getting ready to release his album Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$. Little did he know the interviewer was 18-year-old Duncan. Snoop Dogg took the call from his bath tub, and became a massive supporter and advocate of DubCNN.
More information at https://shop.bt.com/ www.pcr-online.biz
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“We believe that users’ privacy and safety is one of the most important topics today” 46 | October 2019
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LIFE IN THE CHANNEL
Netatmo’s Sean O’Brien The brand’s Regional Sales Director discusses its key product launches at IFA 2019, how its recent acquisition will benefit the company, and the key design principles Netatmo follows to ensure its smart home products stand out from the crowd...
Tell us about your work history and your current role at Netatmo. I have spent over 25 years working for some of the leading consumer brands across the globe. Recent positions include head of consumer for Samsung mobile computing division and senior sales manager for Lenovo. In September 2015, I joined the smart home category. The UK region is a growing market in the sector and there is huge interest in smart home systems. That is where Netatmo can play a big role. In my role as a regional sales director, I am building and executing a global strategy to achieve growth in the UK region, to build upon Netatmo’s existing relationships and to generate new business. Netatmo was acquired by Legrand last year, how has this benefitted the brand? With this acquisition, we will be able to rely on the
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huge distribution network of Legrand, and to use their strong international reputation to expand our presence in Europe, and in markets where we are not present yet. The Legrand brand is the guarantee of excellence. Professionals across the world work with the Legrand products and our sales team will collaborate with Legrand in some areas to strengthen Netatmo’s distribution network. What products did you launch at IFA? At IFA we announced the availability of our Netatmo Smart Alarm System with Camera. Featuring the Smart Indoor Camera, the Smart Indoor Siren and Smart Door and Window Sensors, the new Netatmo alarm system offers up a complete home security solution to users. The Netatmo Smart Indoor Camera alerts the user in real time with precise notifications. It uses facial recognition technology to distinguish between a stranger, a loved one and a harmless movement. When
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the camera detects an unknown face, the user is sent a real-time alert to their smartphone with a photo and video of the event. Smart Door and Window Sensors pick up any movement or vibration, indicating that someone is trying to force the user’s doors and windows open. The user thus instantly receives a notification on their smartphone such as “Movement detected at the kitchen window”. The Smart Indoor Siren works with the Camera and the Smart Door and Window Sensors. It automatically triggers its deafening 110 dB alarm when the Smart Indoor Camera detects an intruder, or if specific Door and Window Sensors detect any movement in these places. The user receives a precise real-time
technologies. Netatmo products meet the main needs expressed by consumers when it comes to smart homes: they are designed to improve comfort, optimise energy efficiency, and increase security. One key way we stand out from the crowd is that all of our products’ features are available for free. Unlike other smart home products, no subscription or additional fees are required to use the Netatmo ones. We also believe that users’ privacy and safety is one of the most important topics today. This is why at Netatmo much of our R&D work is focused on data security and privacy. Considerable effort goes into making sure that our users’ data remains safe and private. Since our first product launch in 2012 until now, we
“Even though our smart products have unique functions and work with extremely sophisticated algorithms, we ensure that their technological complexity is completely invisible to users. We design objects that are simple to install and use” notification on their smartphone, such as “Unknown person detected”, as well as video of the event filmed by the camera. The Smart Door and Window Sensors are already available for purchase as well as the Smart Indoor Camera. The Smart Indoor Siren also launched at the end of September. With these launches, Netatmo is expanded its security range, making our offering a truly comprehensive package. As the smart home market grows, how is Netatmo making sure it stands out from the crowd? At Netatmo, even though our smart products have unique functions and work with extremely sophisticated algorithms, we ensure that their technological complexity is completely invisible to users. We design objects that are simple to install and use – even though they integrate cutting-edge
have always designed products according to four principles: 1. Durable design: no planned obsolescence. 2. Privacy at its core: from the conception phase, we ensure that we can guarantee data protection. 3. Useful and reliable: our products make life easier. 4. Thoughtful notifications: we notify our users only when it is important. What does the company have planned for the next year? We do not unveil our product roadmap, so I can’t say too much on what’s to come, but our teams are always working on developing new features for our existing products and services. They’re also working on developing and launching products we’ve already announced, like the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell. This is an exciting product for a number of reasons, including being the first HomeKit-compatible smart doorbell on the market.
More information at https://www.netatmo.com/
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<Dolphin races across Europe for children’s charity > Over the summer, Dolphin Computer Upgrades took part in a European charity rally, driving across five countries to raise funds for a local children’s charity. The team covered over 2,000 miles in a restored 28-year classic Mini with no suspension, no sat nav, and no air con (the first day in France hit 40+ degrees). Dolphin admitted to PCR that not many people believed they would make it, but the live blog updates proved them wrong, as the team documented every hot and bumpy step of their impressive feat. “Dolphin Computer Upgrades celebrated our 15th anniversary in 2019 and we wanted to give something back to the local community. This coincided with two other major occurrences – a client letting us know about The Two Ball Charity Rally, and hearing about a
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dilapidated classic Mini car up for sale,” explains Dolphin’s Lorelei Gibb. “Reaching out to several local charities, The Sussex Snowdrop Trust were the first to reply and were as excited about the prospect of this adventure as we were. And so we set about restoring the car ready to drive over 2,000 miles across Europe in an unprecedented heat wave... We may have finished the race, but we’re still trying to raise desperately needed funds for our charity, and have signed up again for next year.” At the time of writing Dolphin Computer Upgrades has raised over £1,185 for the Sussex Snowdrop Trust, which provides home care for very ill children. You can donate to the cause at https://www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/dolphin-computers-brighton
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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry
<Biggest tech news from… October 2012 > Now you’re up-to-date with the latest issues in tech retail, let’s take a trip down memory lane to some interesting stories from yesteryear… Windows 8 has landed
EE announces 4G pricing
Back in October 2012, Microsoft launched Windows 8. At an event in New York, Microsoft’s then CEO Steve Ballmer told attendees that “Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC now really is”. At its core, Windows 8 embraced the emerging tablet market, utilising touch-screen and not just as a supported feature – the entire user interface was designed with touch at its heart. Gone was the traditional desktop, to be replaced by a series of panelled windows that were familiar to anyone who owned an Xbox. In addition, Microsoft integrated an app store called Windows Store, which allowed users to purchase and download software in a manner similar to Apple’s service.
While we’re all busy gearing up for 5G, think back to 2012, when 4G was the talk of the town. EE, previously known as Everything Everywhere, revealed its pricing strategy for the UK’s first 4G network in October of that year. The service started at £36 per month for a 500MB data limit and extend to £56 per month for the 8GB data limit – all with unlimited voice and text usage. Customers could use VoIP services without the need for add-ons and BT Wi-Fi was included in the plan at no extra cost. For an additional £5 per month, users could use their unlimited voice and text allowances abroad. Just imagine paying £36 for a measly 500MB of data today!
Apple posts Samsung ‘apology’ on its UK website Speaking of Apple, back in 2012 we saw something quite rare from the tech giant – an apology to rival Samsung. In July 2012, Samsung won its case against Apple over the design of the Galaxy Tab 10. Apple appealed the verdict, which required the company to run adverts proclaiming that Samsung did not copy the iPad. After losing its appeal against the UK ruling in October, Apple published an apology – if you can call it that – which ended on this absolute burn: “While the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognised that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung wilfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.”
Watchdog lifts lid on poor computer repairs BBC Watchdog investigated the activities of computer repair firm Click4PC, which also traded as Click Computers, back in 2012. The TV show had received a number of complaints from consumers about missing data and computers being held until payment was received, with users unable to check over their PCs first. Watchdog employed a computer expert to introduce a simple problem to a PC, before calling out Click4PC to ‘fix’ it. The firm missed the problem, installed a new hard drive, and charged a whopping £205 for it. When they got the computer back, Watchdog discovered that the ‘new’ drive, had sensitive information on it from a previous owner, as well as an illegal copy of Word.
Send stories to Laura Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEXT MONTH Diversity Special In the next issue of PCR we will be printing our annual list of influential women in the industry as well as discussing the topic of diversity in the channel. We will also have a bumper sector guide featuring must-have tech Christmas gifts for 2019. If you would like to get involved in the November issue, get in touch with editor Laura Barnes via the email above.
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