ITP.net's tech 2017 round-up: March
E-commerce deals, Samsung marked its return, Dubai embraces AI and creepy apps launched
March was the month of e-commerce. Reports had emerged that Amazon was to acquire UAE-based SOUQ.com, however the US retailer was facing competition from Emaar Malls. Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar had offered an $800m bid to takeover SOUQ.com, quoting the moved would be "in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping". However in the end it was Amazon that secured the deal for reportedly $580m, as the company cited that ‘Amazon and SOUQ.com shared the same DNA'.
Undeniably Samsung had a tough 2016, from exploding phones, declining sales and an eventual manufacturing shut down of the Note 7, however the South Korean giant bounced back in March as it unveiled the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. The devices were visibly differentiated smartphones because of their large Samsung displays, tiny bezels, and fast chipsets, which all play to Samsung group's competitive strengths.
Samsung was not the only manufacturer to release a new smartphone, Apple followed suit and revealed a special edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus which came in the colour red. The special edition device made an appearance at this year's GITEX Shopper, along with thousands of other electronics at discounted prices.
The month also saw the ban of electronics devices set by the US government, which in return impacted Middle East airports and passengers. The chairman of the UAE's aviation authority, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority, expressed the ban as a ‘surprise' and cited that the UAE is ranked first in the world for airport security and safety standards. The ban was later lifted in the year.
Smart Dubai Office announced plans to make Dubai the first ‘Cognitive City', with artificial intelligence (AI), embedded in government services and experiences city-wide, with the help from IBM. Together, they opened a Cognitive Computing Lab which will develop skills for AI for around 270 government personnel, and will also provide tools, resources and a sandbox environment to develop AI and cognitive solutions.
There is always news of a new app gracing Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store, but March saw the launch of a new a creepy app, called With Me. Elrois, a South Korean company, had developed an app enabling users to create a 3D avatar of a deceased person, whether of loved ones or celebrities.