New iphone takes fea­tures from Asia and adds profit

Business Daily (Kenya) - - EDITORIAL & OPINION -

ROBYN MAK

is a Reuters Break­ingviews colum­nist

WWhile the lat­est iphones boast big up­grades, much would be fa­mil­iar to users of Sam­sung or Huawei phones. Ap­ple’s brand­ing wiz­ardry, price dis­ci­pline and fo­cus on richer cus­tomers set it apart when it comes to the bot­tom line.

The new phones, un­veiled on Tues­day, boast nu­mer­ous im­prove­ments. Key sell­ing points in­clude wire­less charg- ing, big­ger screens pow­ered by cut­ting-edge OLED dis­play tech­nol­ogy, and ad­vanced cam­eras that al­low fa­cial recog­ni­tion and aug­mented re­al­ity.

Yet none of this is rev­o­lu­tion­ary. Flag­ship phones from South Korea’s Sam­sung al­ready have OLED dis­plays, fa­cial recog­ni­tion and wire­less charg­ing. And China’s dom­i­nant, pri­vately owned hand­set mak­ers —Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo — cram new fea­tures into af­ford­able phones. OPPO de­vices can be 75 per cent charged in less than half an hour, a more use­ful trait than wire­less charg­ing. Mean­while, Huawei is set to launch a new phone with ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence-pow­ered fea­tures, like in­stant trans­la­tion and im­age recog­ni­tion.

Yet Tim Cook’s $831 bil­lion (Sh85.6 tril­lion) com­pany is way ahead when it comes to prof­itabil­ity. Last year, Ap­ple ac­counted for a whop­ping 79 per cent of all the smart­phone in­dus­try’s op­er­at­ing profit, ac­cord­ing to Strat­egy An­a­lyt­ics. To com­pare, Sam­sung and Huawei cap­tured just 15 and two per cent re­spec­tively. Ap­ple’s brand and mar­ket power help ex­plain its su­pe­rior op­er­at­ing mar­gins, which an­a­lysts estimate to be more than 30 per cent for hand­sets. At $999 (Sh103,000), the new top-of-the range iphone X will be a lux­ury status sym­bol, par­tic­u­larly in faster-grow­ing emerg­ing mar­kets like China and In­dia.

And Ap­ple’s sheer size helps it ne­go­ti­ate favourable prices from sup­pli­ers that are de­pen­dent on the iphone. This ben­e­fit is not open to its smaller com­peti­tors, although Sam­sung also en­joys huge scale. And un­like ri­vals that com­pete on price in the lower and mid-end seg­ments, Ap­ple is fo­cused on win­ning over richer users, mean­ing higher mar­gins for each de­vice.

Cus­toms agen­cies, glob­ally, are fac­ing the emerg­ing dilemma of bal­anc­ing de­mands to im­prove trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion while at the same time meet­ing in­creas­ing needs for com­pli­ance.

They are un­der pres­sure to de­liver cus­tomer-fo­cused ser­vices, col­lect ac­cu­rate rev­enues and pre­vent il­le­gal trade within the con­straints of lim­ited re­sources. This calls for mod­erni­sa­tion of cus­toms ad­min­is­tra­tion to de­liver agility, ac­cu­racy, se­cu­rity, and trans­parency us­ing sys­tems that are em­pow­er­ing rather than re­stric­tive.

It is for this rea­son that the Kenya Rev­enue Author­ity (KRA) is im­ple­ment­ing the In­te­grated Cus­toms Man­age­ment Sys­tem (ICMS).

This sys­tem con­sol­i­dates all the ex­ist­ing cus­toms sys­tems into one mod­ern, ro­bust and more ef­fi­cient sys­tem built on the lat­est tech­nol­ogy with ca­pa­bil­ity of seam­lessly in­ter­fac­ing with other in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal sys­tems as need arises.

The sys­tem is bound to be a game-changer in cus­toms pro­cess­ing as it will align op­er­a­tions with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices and im­prove the ease of do­ing busi­ness not only in Kenya but also the in East African Com­mu­nity (EAC).

In line with the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s (WTO) re­quire­ment for the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion and har­mon­i­sa­tion of in­ter­na­tional trade pro­ce­dures, ICMS prom­ises to fur­ther sim­plify and op­ti­mise cus­toms pro­cesses.

The changes in­volve com­ing up with a new sys­tem that in­cor­po­rates all the sub­sys­tems built around the main clear­ance sys­tem as well newly de­fined func­tion­al­i­ties.

The cur­rent cus­toms sys­tem, Simba 2005/2014, runs on a mul­ti­plic­ity of sub-sys­tems and re­quires mul­ti­ple points of au­then­ti­ca­tion for users hence some­times takes more time. But with the new sys­tem, it is en­vi­sioned that clear­ance time for im­ports and ex­ports will re­duce by at least 60 per cent. For a long time, all EAC mem­ber states, ex­cept Kenya, have been us­ing the Au­to­mated Sys­tem for Cus­toms Data (Asy­cuda). The ICMS is now able to ex­change cus­toms dec­la­ra­tion in­for­ma­tion with Asy­cuda.

This is of great ben­e­fit to coun­tries that rely on Mom­basa port. With the new ICMS, all coun­tries that have been us­ing Mom­basa port will be able to track the move­ment of their cargo. The is­sue of pos­si­ble di­ver­sion of tran­sit goods into the lo­cal mar­ket or dis­ap­pear­ance of con­tain­ers will be a thing of the past. Fur­ther, the new sys­tem has friendly in­ter­ac­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties that will elim­i­nate re­dun­dant pro­cesses, au­to­mate man­ual and semi-man­ual pro­cesses, and in­cor­po­rate ro­bust man­age­ment in all cus­toms trans­ac­tions.

This will pave the way for the era when traders will be en­abled to make their own cargo self-dec­la­ra­tions.

In ad­di­tion, the ICMS so­lu­tion comes with best prac­tice fea­tures in­clud­ing auto-up­load of cargo im­port data from ship­ping man­i­fest to pre­vent im­port fal­si­fi­ca­tion, auto-ex­change of in­for­ma­tion with itax to counter non-com­pli­ant traders and a vir­tual elec­tronic auc­tion plat­form to make cus­toms cargo auc­tions ac­ces­si­ble to all.

This level of im­prove­ment for Kenya’s cus­toms pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures will al­low for less pa­per­work and thus faster clear­ance, to save not only money but also time in busi­ness trans­ac­tions.

...di­ver­sion of tran­sit goods into the lo­cal mar­ket or dis­ap­pear­ance of con­tain­ers will be a thing of the past

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