Toby Shapshak

Editor, columnist, strategist and speaker; Toby writes and speaks about Innovation. And Africa. Most eloquently about Innovation in Africa. Through a range of media, from newspapers to television and radio, he speaks regularly on the trends in technology and innovation; and where they are going.

How bad can it get for Uber — the ride-hailing service keeps making absurd mistakes

The only company experiencing worse bad press than Eskom, or any related to the Guptas, is rail-hailing app Uber. The world’s most valuable start-up at US$69bn has undergone a slew of disastrous revelations about its executives’ conduct, corporate culture including pervasive sexual harassment, and intellectual property theft for its autonomous car project. Then there’s the ongoin...[Read More]

The years-long DTT scandal seems to have a Gupta link, denying SA better broadband and TV

This is about government policy, so you’re going to have to bear with me. Last week, the previous communications minister (Faith Muthambi) won her Constitutional Court case against the policies of her predecessor (Yunus Carrim) and of her own party. This final legal step might lead to a conclusion to this epic, ten-year saga, you might foolishly believe. But this is the ANC government and we are w...[Read More]

Stung by criticism, Apple rejuvenated its computers while launching a home voice assistant

If you were expecting the traditional “and one more thing” from Apple’s big announcements this week, you would’ve been disappointed. Those days are long gone. Under the tyrannical rule of Steve Jobs, where suppliers and would-be leakers were terrified of the omerta imposed by the fanatical and secretive co-founder, such leaks would never be tolerated. This chokehold has slo...[Read More]

Although bookstores are making a comeback, Amazon’s reading device is a thing of beauty

Last week Amazon, the online bookstore that put so many other bookstores out of business, opened its first store in New York. Called Amazon Books, it’s the ecommerce giant’s second store, after it opened a bricks-and-mortar store in its hometown Seattle in 2015. As curious and ironic as it is, it’s a good thing. The world can never have too many bookstores, which are a bastion of liter...[Read More]

Voice assistants are just the tip of the iceberg for a new way of interacting with a computer

The war for voice assistants is hotting up. Amazon’s Alexa is the current champion, having stolen a march on everyone else’s by the speaker unit being installed as an extension of the e-commerce giant’s sales strategy. It’s part of the Prime initiative – which, for $100 a year, offers free two-day delivery and where Amazon’s video and music services were first offered...[Read More]

The doomsday scenario of malware taking over the world happened last Friday

Last Friday, science fiction became reality. In countless movies about the future terrors of our digital world, doomsday scenarios have ranged from hackers taking over nuclear power stations to siphoning off millions from bank accounts. But on Friday the most improbable of terrible predictions of cybercrime came true. A massive ransomware attack affected over 100 countries, crippling courier giant...[Read More]

There is a darkness in the world unless we fight for privacy but tech can shine a light

Austin Kleon calls himself a “writer who draws” and has created modern-day poetry by blacking out all but a few words of a New York Times newspaper page to create seemingly random, but remarkably poignant poems. It’s a delightful, serendipitous kind of artistic process that yield surprisingly results, which he has previously joked: “The blackouts are like if the CIA did Hai...[Read More]

AR has the potential to be much more practical and useful than VR

This is the year when augmented reality (AR) is going to reach the mainstream public imagination, although it may take a few years to be fully ready. Several signs point to this nascent trend going mainstream, including Facebook’s F8 conference last week where AR took centre stage with giant glasses projected above Mark Zuckerberg’s head. Calling it a way to “mix the physical and...[Read More]

Elon Musk brings down the cost of space travel by (finally) reusing a SpaceX rocket

Late last month a South African did something that the entire world is not only awestruck by, but immensely proud of. It was not Jacob Zuma or any of the ANC leadership, although there was a Pretoria connection. On March 30th, the history books will show, space flight was forever changed when SpaceX reused a Falcon 9 rocket that had already made a trip to space. Having landed back on Earth on Apri...[Read More]

As great as our smartphones are for taking pictures, you need a smart way to back them up

Nooo, my friend’s Facebook status cried. A stolen iPhone meant he had lost 10,000 treasured photographs. It’s a common problem of our smartphone era, where our mobiles have become the centre of our lives. With more powerful cameras, that let us instantly post to social media, they are also the device we use to take all our pictures. Those treasured pictures of small children taking the...[Read More]

After Note 7, corporate scandals, the Galaxy S8 is the response Samsung needed

The only people who have had a more annus horribilis than President Jacob Zuma are Samsung. Although they are a giant chaebol that makes everything from smartphones to jet fuel, and despite accounting for a fifth of South Korea’s exports, they had a torrid time in the past year. First their flagship Note 7 phablet began exploding last year and was ultimately recalled, costing an estimated US...[Read More]

Why a home-grown satellite service deserves to be the awarded the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa

Why does a satellite decoder deserve to be included in the annual Most Beautiful Object in South Africa, which has previously been won by dresses, art films and elegant jewellery? Organised by that creative hive that is Design Indaba, I was asked to nominate something home-grown for this index of beautiful object. This year’s winner is a five-minute steam punk fashion video, oozing the kind of des...[Read More]

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