Tough breaks in 2013

2013 was a tough year for a few companies in tech and media; but while some spluttered out completely, a few reshaped, reformed and found a way to carry on.

Notably, BlackBerry came close to fading during the course of the year – as many reports predicted it would, in 2012 – but through a bailout by shareholders and some management restructuring, the once-dominant smartphone maker was given a life-line to swing its fortunes.

Other companies and entities were not so fortunate, however; with many passing the tipping point to where it became necessary to say goodbye, or change course dramatically.



Well known media player, Winamp will no longer be available for download from 20 December 2013.

It was announced that the website “and associated web services” were given their marching orders by AOL in late November.

According to Winamp employees, as quoted in a report by ArsTechnica, the media player’s demise was allegedly due to mismanagement on the part of AOL.

Ars quoted a source stating that the AOL had been “trying to sell [Winamp] for months”, noting that the service was earning revenues of approximately $6 million, annually, and still had millions of users worldwide.

Altech down


While Altech as an entity still lives on, a string of tough reporting periods for the company over the past few years ultimately led to Allied Electronics (Altron), which already owned a majority stake in the company, to full absorb it into its own operations.

In August 2013, Altron shareholders approved the acquisition of 34,32 million Altech shares with a total cash value of R1.63 billion, giving hte company 100% ownership of the tech arm.

Altech subsequently delisted from the JSE, and restructured to form part of a new division in Altron, known as Altron TMT (Telecommunications, Multimedia and Information Technology).

The Altron TMT division comprises of both the Altech and Bytes businesses, with the two continuing to exist as separate entities maintaining their well-established brand identities.

Sondag Closed
Sondag Closed

Print publications

2013 was not a happy year for many print publications, with both international and local magazines and newspapers shutting their doors for physical distribution during the course of the year.

While some of the listed publications live on in a digital format, some print publications were not so lucky and got shuttered completely.

In May 2013, Playboy SA announced it would end its print run and go digital, after the “hurdle of conservative readers” had proved too much for the magazine.

In June, UK-based Trader Media Group, the publisher of car magazine, Auto Trader, also published its final edition of its magazine, having completed its transition to an online digital business. The group’s subsidiary in South Africa was unaffected.

In July, Media24 Magazines, a subsidiary of Naspers, confirmed that it would cease to publish B2B magazine, AdVantage, after 20 years of circulation.

Again, in October, Media24 News then announced that its Afrikaans Sunday tabloid, Sondag, would also be closing – this, some months announced its decision to disband its Afrikaans Nuus24 channel, in June.



First it was on hiatus, then it was set for a relaunch, and then pegged for a complete overhaul by April 2013.

But instead, online and mobile SA video platform Zoopy just dropped off the face of the Internet.

The Vodacom-owned platform has been a constant no-show since its founders, Pat and Jason Elk, left the company in 2012.

Promises of “returning to air” fell flat in November 2012, with the site getting pulled down completely a month later – and the promised April 2013 overhaul resulting in nothing but a hosting page.

At every no-show, Vodacom remained tight-lipped on the company, saying only that there were no new developments, and no comment could be given at the time.

Whether plans are still in place for the site and brand remains to be seen – but one thing is for sure: Zoopy as it was, is no more.

More on tech and media companies

Zoopy’s new direction

Altron TMT to rise from Altech

Another SA print title closes

Another print title bites the dust


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Tough breaks in 2013