Are you being bombarded with companies trying to get your permission to keep sending you information after the spam act comes into force next week?
Infotech had an interesting article on the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act.
The key point was this one:
“If companies have been in the habit of communicating electronically with customers and prospects on a regular basis then they have inferred consent to send them e-mail, and there is no need for them to go out again and ask for it.”
Do you agree with that?
Some interesting examples of how companies have communicated. Compare the extracts in these two examples:
Last chance! Opt in and go in the draw for an amazing travel prize
From time to time we like to send you news and offers we think will be of interest to you.
The Unsolicited Electronic Message Act 2007 comes into force on the 5th September, so we need your consent to send you promotional emails. You need to opt in to continue to receive promotional messages from us after this date.
Click here to opt in now, it will only take a minute
Air New Zealand:
Confirm you want to keep receiving our Special Offers and go in the draw to win 1 of 20 prizes of 2,000 Airpoints Dollarsâ„¢
You are currently receiving Special Offers emails from us, including offers like the recent Super Kids Fly Free and the 2 for 1 Motherâ€™s Day offers. However, to continue receiving these Special Offers in the future we need you to confirm your consent.
We need your consent because thereâ€™s a new legislation coming into force on 5 September 2007, which is designed to prevent unwanted spam emails, and we want to ensure that we treat your email address responsibly. Unfortunately, without your consent we will no longer be able to email you these Special Offers.
Which one makes you feel like you are loosing something and which one feels like you are giving something away. Which one brings in emotion?
Very interesting corporate communications case study.2 fingered right click
Just doing a quick survery through the office and it seemed that many new Mac users didn’t know about the 2 fingered right click on a Mac laptop trackpad. The trackpad is a multi-touch device. Placing 2 fingers on the trackpad and clicking gives you a right click. But it has to be enabled.
Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard and Mouse -> Trackpad
and select ‘Place two fingers on trackpad and click button for secondary click’
This will improve your life.Going Extreme
JohnR did pop around this afternoon and help get my home Apple network set up. The mission was to drop out a tired XP computer with 2 NIC’s and have AirPort Extreme ($NZ265) plug straight into my Cable Modem, and then share it’s connection with everything else on the home network.
With a couple of reboots and disabling DHCP on the PC we had it all going within about 30 mins. Fairly straight forward. Rebooting the cable modem and the AirPort Extreme at the right time was key.
You also need to install the Airport Utility (the installation CD) on each Mac to use the USB Harddrive that is attached to the AirPort Extreme. The installation also upgrades later MacBooks to use 802.11n. My original MacBook (about a year old) did not upgrade and runs on 802.11g. My wifes white MacBook which I brought a few months ago upgraded to ‘n’ and says that it has a 130MB connection. Wow!
Next step is a USB 2.0 Hub which I’ll hang out the back and share the printer as well.
The all Apple network seems to work really, really well.
I found a few utilities along the way that got me behind the OSX UI. You can find these with a spotlight search.
- Running Terminal gives you a unix prompt. Makes you feel like a hacker! You can ping from there.
- Or even better there is a Network Utility, with lots of useful goodies like Traceroute so you can see if you’re traveling across Southern Cross to get to TradeMe.
What’s next? Well Toshiba have just released a new Portege with a Solid State NAND Disk, that has 12.5 hour battery life, so hopefully a new MacBook isn’t far away. Dream spec’s would be no hard disk but ability to drive a 30″ monitor.Grabaseat
Bernard Hickey mentioned an interesting point on the Radio Live Sunday Business show earlier today.
Commenting on domestic airline competition he mentioned that many internet users have Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat page as their homepage.
What a great example of a successful business promotion.Â There is so much perceived value there that consumers have made it the first page they see every day. Above news, above the default portal page that is preloaded, above their favourite blog, above every other business that person is a customer of.
That is compelling value.Â Gets you thinking about what you could provide as part of your business that was so compelling you become your customers home page.iPhone be free
The iPhone has now been completely cracked
James asks if I would replace my BlackBerry with an iPhone. Not yet. But I’m sure there are plenty of smart people working out how to put Enterprise Mail on the iPhone.
As I’ve said before Apple should buy RIM. Imagine that.The significance of moving Dad to Gmail
My Dad was caught up in the Yahoo Xtra email migration disaster last week.
I logged into his new email service and couldn’t believe what a confusing experience the new web mail is. The screens are full of all sorts of crap trying to get you more locked into Yahoo Xtra services. Dad is in his 60’s (sorry for outing you Dad). He just wants email. It has to be simple.
So I added him to my email domain on Gmail and gave him a simple URL to access. Within a few minutes he was up and running on Gmail.
On the Xtra email service I set up a forwarding rule so that email to his old address ends up in his Gmail account. I also tried to set up a Vacation Responder so that all email to the old address gets notified that dad’s email address has changed. The Vacation Responder (Out of Office feature) does not seem to work on Yahoo Xtra. Grrrr!
Other than that, a simple process.
As Lance noted, separating email from your ISP is a good thing for consumers.
Consumer disaggregation of services is a bad thing for carriers. Screwing up the customer experience and unsophisticated solution thinking can and will now quickly create a tangible drop in ARPU and customer lock in. A very quick way to erode value.
I agree again with Lance, carriers need to reinvent themselves or they will see see value migrate to a new breed of customer centric service providers who use the power of technology and design to build great businesses.New Apple toys
I stopped off at the Apple store on the way home tonight and found they had a new collection of toys just in.
I picked up iLife & iWork 08 Family packs and the new AirPort Extreme 802.11 wireless access point. The family packs are great value. $NZ120 for 5 users.
But the coolest thing I picked up was the new Apple Keyboard - the new one that comes with the new iMac.
The keyboard is very different from anything I’ve used before. It is incredibly thin and is nothing but keyboard. My old keyboard feels clunky now. It’s like a naked keyboard, sitting really close to the desk. It feels very different, but right. $NZ72. It has Mac specific keys which are useful. It is a flat keyboard through so not sure how it will go long term. I used to feel like I was getting RSI before I got my Microsoft Natural keyboards which have a gentle curve. My hands have been fine since. Going back to a flat keyboard does feel like it might get sore.
The AirPort extreme base station I think allows a USB Drive to be connected. I need to have a play with that as that will be great for backups and sharing files around the house. A cheap NAS.
Lots of new software to play with now. iPhoto Events seem to work really well.
Update: The NAS disk on AirPort Extreme works great. The trick is to install the Airport CD on each Mac, which installs the AirPort Disk Utility which monitors your AirPorts for any attached storage. Then the shared drive just appears.
I had a big USB drive attached to an old XP machine I was using. It plugged straight in to the AirPort. So now I can decommission that old computer. Nice.
Looks like the shared drive can be used for Time Machine in Leopard. That’s cool.
Question:Â Is it now possible to drop the PC out the mix? The PC has 2 NIC’s in it. One NIC is connected to my Paradise cable modem and the other NIC connects to a switch which the home network runs off. Can I connect the Paradise Model directly to the AirPort and drop the PC. I guess Airport would have to provide the DHCP service? (Not that I know much about networking).Open XML Crunch Time
Chatting to local Microsofties over the past few days, a big thing that is happening in New Zealand right now is a meeting with Standards New Zealand about the Open XML data format.
I’ve spoken about this earlier … Open XML
My understanding of the issue is that there is already an Open Document Format standard, supporters of that format are resisting the Microsoft office format as an international standard. We’ll that is natural, but is that good?
Each country gets to vote on whether the Open XML format should be an International Standard.
I got Microsoft to send me their reasoning why the ratification of OpenXML is a good thing.
Framing the discussion in terms of the role of Standards New Zealand.
The Standards Councilâ€™s primary functions are to develop standards, and to promote, encourage and facilitate the use of standards, which benefit all New Zealanders by improving safety, quality, prosperity and convenience.
- Convenience: People use Office today because it is the most convenient product to meet their needs â€“ it is the de facto standard for document creation and exchange today. A significant volume of documents have been created by thousands of products utilising the current binary formats of Microsoft Office. Open XML is good for everybody, because it takes a specification compatible with our current documents and moves it into the public domain.
- Prosperity: Not standardising Open XML means over time all orgainsations with legacy Office documents will need to migrate them to a new format that was not designed to maintain compatibility with what has already been created. This will have a cost impact and productivity impact for all organisations because it forces you, a software user, to choose between openness and compatibility for your documents.
My feeling is that Microsoft have often been criticised for not having open formats for interoperability, here is a great example of them doing the right thing by opening up the document format and passing control it to a standards body. (Which they have done - Open XML is already an ECMA Standard.)
I believe this is great news for organisations like us who partner with Microsoft and have built upon Microsoft document formats. Office is a standard by default.
No vendor is impartial in this debate. Forrester cover that off here. So this is a tech/political debate (looking forward to your comments) and on Thursday/Friday the front-line of that debate is here in New Zealand.
I think Standards New Zealand should endorse the standard. New Zealand has had huge adoption of Microsoft technologies and we have a long history of developing local technology companies in partnership with Microsoft. Of all the multi-nationals Microsoft have stood out as embracing the local community and developing in country expertise. In practice and especially in New Zealand, Microsoft data formats are already a standard.
I don’t think we have anything to gain by rejecting this.Xtra email is now in Australia ?!?!
The problems with the Xtra email migration are well reported. At least well done Kevin Kenrick fronting up on Campbell Live tonight. That must have been a nightmare and he handled it well.
But what staggers me now is all Xtra mail is now to be hosted out of Australia. What?!?
Does that mean that all Xtra mail, say from Gore to Dunedin, travels via Australia? Say it ain’t so.
- So what does that do to our scarce international bandwidth? We can’t do reliable VOIP or video conferencing and we’re adding internal NZ email and attachments down the pipe?
- Are Xtra customers charged for International Traffic now for all email, or do the rest of the New Zealand internet community subsidize that?
- Does Xtra enjoy the same international pricing that drives Radio New Zealand to host their content in the US?
- So if the link between NZ and Oz is down, internal NZ email goes down?
- Are NZ business emails under Australian jurisdiction now?
- What governments now monitor our internal mail? What if we want to invade Australia (directly rather than our current method) one day?
I just don’t get it.
Sad to see Marko go though. He is smart. Wonder where he’ll turn up next?My favorite bed time stories
For those of us with young children, a big part of the daily ritual is story time. My 3 year old insists on two stories before the light goes off.
I have to be honest, some stories I dread reading for the 30th time, but there are a number of favorites that are just laugh out loud funny. I’m not sure the little fella thinks they are as funny as I do but these are my suggestions for must have child books that you’ll look forward to reading.
1. Russell the Sheep
Great artwork, the story of a sheep trying to get to sleep …
2. When Pigs Fly
Priceless. Look for the last picture …
3. Diary of a Wombat
Text is as good as the pictures …
4. The story of the little Mole who knew it was none of his business
Seems to have a different title on Amazon …
What are your must have, laugh out loud, bedtime stories?Moble Data Charges: even crazier …
So if you look at Telecom’s offering, it appears to be $8 per MB. This is for an EVDO connection I guess. But if you access through the WAP gateway (i.e. through a consumer phone handset) the price is 5c per k. $50 per MB!
It’s free to browse around the Xtra WAP menu on your mobile phone. You only start paying when you leave those menus and begin to use the services or enter an application such as a WAP game.
- All content marked with an “*” will cost 35c (incl GST) to read that page or perform that particular task. For example when you read a specific news article or choose to send an Xtra Email from your Telecom mobile.
- All content outside the Xtra WAP menu will cost 5c per kb.
- All WAP games are 7c per page (excluding downloadable Java games).
- All WAP Chat services are 7c per page or refresh (pages auto refresh every 15 seconds).
- Finally, some services, like downloading ringtones or sending Picture Messages have differing costs. In these instances you will get a message on your mobile telling you how much they cost so you can choose to proceed before downloading or sending them.
So that first time users hit on their new mobile phone to stuff.co.nz just cost $38.20. Hit two pages and you just paid for your monthly Sky Subscription.
Nuts!Â Why would you do that to your customers?Mobile data: chicken and egg
I was thinking the other day why we still don’t use mobile data. It’s 2007 surely mobile access should have taken off by now.
Email is the No.1 mobile application. What would people use next? Well when I’m sitting around with my BlackBerry, after dealing with email, the next thing I want to do is catch up on news.
Some of the big publishing news sites have recently revised their websites but have not taken into account access for mobile devices. What you get on your mobile handset is the same whether you come through a browser or mobile phone.
So I looked at what the size of those pages are.
Stuff.co.nz was 764k, NZHerald.co.nz is 330k and the smh.com.au was a whopping 1.3MB. Seems amazing but front pages of news sites have banners, big navigation and lots of photo’s. (Lots of things you specifically don’t want to download if you are accessing through a mobile).
I then looked at what mobile data costs.
I assume that the bulk of the market does not have a data plan. So when they buy their new super-duper-data-phone, and get web curious and surf to stuff.co.nz, that first page has cost them $8.60! Ouch! If they think this is cool and go through a few different pages there could easily be several hundred bucks on their next bill.
I asked around the office as to what people expectations were of the cost of hitting 1 page. 10 cents was a common number (and thought to be a rip off).
So what is happening?
Consumers are terrified of mobile data. The publishers have been burned with low customer adoption of mobile services so they no longer invest in mobile specific delivery.
The ridiculously expensive cost of mobile data holds the whole industry up, for carriers, publishers and creatives. Who wins here?Seat gap + Cure
Am I getting bigger or are AirNZ winding the seats closer a centimetre each week?
They seem to have just crossed the line where you can’t open your laptop on your tray any more.
This is a major pain. Normally on the way home I bang out some email follow ups from meetings during the day, maybe write a blog post and just catch up. I can’t do that anymore so that 30 minutes dead time used for catch up now has to happen at home later on. Grrrrrrrr!
I’ve been doing the once a week to Auckland for probably 15 years or so now. I had a 7:30 this morning and found myself in Auckland the same night as the Cure. Sometimes you need to take the opportunity.
Vector Area was really convenient, thought it would be great if they stuck some egg crates or whatever around the walls to fix the sound.
The Cure was nostalgia night and good to see people of my vintage reliving their youth. When they said it would be 3 hours you knew it was going to be indulgent. They could have taken 60 minutes out of the middle and it would have be better.
We have kids now. We pay baby sitters. 2 hours is plenty.Congratulations Mase
Nice one. Mason Pratt wins NZIM/Eagle Technology young executive of the year.
Mase was one of our young stars through Glazier many years ago and I’m really proud he has won this award. Provoke splintered out of Advantage/Glazier. Another example of the software cycle of life in Wellington.
While probably dressing a bit snappier than most people would be comfortable with, Mase is a Wellington IT identity. Good result. Love your work.Apple Special Event
Another thing that happened when I was away was the special Steve presentation where he announced the new iMacs, iLife and iWork.
You can watch it here.
Thoughts that came to mind
- The statement that all that most people need is an all-in-one and that laptops are all-in-ones. I tend to agree and it’s interesting that we don’t see many PC all-in-ones here. I stopped caring about machine spec’s a couple of years ago. It’s all about the screen. All screens should just have a computer. Mind you, I need portability as well and there is still much too stuff locked into a machine to put a separate iMac on the kitchen bench. So the new iMac looked nice but didn’t spin my wheels. I’m waiting for what they do with their smaller MacBooks. I really want a small MacBook, with a Flash Disk and video card to drive a 30″ monitor(s).
- They threw away the old iMovie. I like that when Apple saw a better model they had the courage to throw their old investment away and go with the new flavour. That’s courageous.
- Increasing tie-ins with Google (Googles Schimdt is on Apples Board). iMovie will now export directly to YouTube (now owned by Google). iWeb plays nicely with Google Maps and Adsense! Surprisingly Safari 3 is not there yet with Gmail.
- Pages, the word processor, now has a more traditional (meaning Microsoft Word like) editing view. Numbers looks like a gorgeous spreadsheet for light weight, presentation-biased spreadsheets). Looks to be a lot of effort to work with Microsoft Office documents. This is very interesting as Apple needs Microsoft to keep investing in Mac Office and Microsoft needs ‘just enough’ competition (partly why MS invested in Apple in the late 90’s). As a mixed Mac and PC company it’s too hard to consider different productivity packages so Microsoft Office (PC and Mac) is the default.
- So what’s missing next? Well, the big barrier to Apple adoption is an email client application for the huge number of potential users that need first class access to corporate email. Microsoft has delayed MacOffice 2008 (until, well, 2008 which frustrates MacIntel users who have to endure the poor performance caused by the Rossetta thunking hit) and is steadfastly refusing to comment on what Entourage 2008 is. Is it a real MAPI client or a slicker version of the flawed OWA access version? Exchange functionality in Mail.app in Leopard is also still a bit vague. Is it more than IMAP?
So a bit there but nothing earth shattering. I hope iPhoto is better than the last version (that is just awful) so I’ll get iLife and being Numbers curious I’ll grab iWork as well.
I’m really waiting for Leopard, new MacBook and widePod. Then it might get exciting again.Free Broadband - good or not?
One of the news stories I picked up on my return was the Vodafone landgrab for fixed line customers that includes Free broadband access if you commit to $20 worth of tolls.
It’s great that we have competition but I have two concerns.
- Â Effectively this cross-subsidization of services means that only the big multi-service providers may be able to play in the game.Â What does this mean for niche providers where the local innovation is occuring? It reminds me of competing in past life for providing a bespoke software solution where a competitor was owned by a carrier and could sweeten their proposal with free telephony services.
- Is this level of competition providing any real benefit or improvement to the issues we have. Is it promoting investment in infrastructure?
This move may be great. I’m not sure. What do you think?Vanuatu
Back from a quick break in Vanuatu. Since we can’t go to Fiji (as they kicked out our High Commissioner), Vanuatu was the next choice. 3 hours flying time from Auckland - a key criteria with kids under 4.
It sucks that there are few options out of Wellington. Flying through Auckland means a hotel overnight by the Airport to catch the 7am flight and 3 hours travel on the way back becomes 7+ hours. When you go on an overseas holiday with young kids you don’t visualize lying by the pool, you’re only thinking kid-fly-time. Public speaking in front of a couple of hundred people - no sweat. Flying with kids - stress for weeks before. Hopefully WIAL can work out some deals for a once a week flight to a few destinations. We’d certainly travel more if we could go direct out of Wellington. There are enough sun starved windsurfers that a couple of direct to Maui flights during winter would be booked out years in advance (I’m fantasizing now of course).
Vanuatu was good. I liked it better than Fiji. We stayed at Le Lagon which I wouldn’t rave about but was OK. We were in a non-refurbished room which was tired. Pools were good and we couldn’t keep the 3 year old out of them.
Port Vila is located in a great setting but still feels fairly third world. Taxi’s don’t have seat belts and the driving is fairly loose so you are a bit nervy with the kids. There is a French connection and the Au PÃ©chÃ© Mignon bakery provides a welcome respite from resort buffet serving probably the best pain au chocolat in the southern hemisphere. They have real coffee so you can ease your mojo withdrawal symptoms.
The currency is something like 75:1. You can’t get vatu until you get there, so when you use the ATM for the first time at Vanuatu airport you’re not sure if you’re getting out enough money for a pineapple juice or Toyota Corolla.
There is no mobile data network - GSM only. The hotels have internet access in the lobby (at hotel rates) which was enough for a couple of checks. So no BlackBerry (which my wife loved of course). On the plus side, with no mobile data, my phone battery lasted all week (maybe only I found that interesting).
So Vanuatu is a good substitute for that mid winter Fiji power break. Good temperature, relaxed and fairly easy to get to.Holiday!
I’m off-line until August the 11th. Away from email, phone, and comment moderation.Â Yippee!Costs of an IPO in New Zealand
Mark Clare from Valuecruncher presents a useful analysis of the costs of an IPO in New Zealand in their latest newsletter.
PDF here.Selecting a model
Reflecting on last weeks Morgo and some strategy work I’ve been involved with this year I think it’s really important for technology companies that they, quite deliberately, pick a business model. Then put plans in place that are completely consistent with that model.
That may sound obvious but a lot of start ups I see operate with an inconsistent model. An example of this is product companies that sell a low cost product with a direct sales model.
I mentioned Atlassian last week because they had complete clarity of model.
Having selected a model this then drives a number of decisions. For example …
- What is my sales model
- What is my price
- What is my support model
- What does the organisation look like
- Where do I need to be
- Who is my target customer
- What can I spend to get those customers
- What customers/deals do we avoid
- What brand do I need
- Who would be best for the board
So a lot of big decisions get easier to make once you have locked down your model. For new companies the model might be their competitive advantage. Doing what’s done before is not an option. Atalassian is an example of that. Products that aren’t necessarily unique but a sales and support model that is.
Not many company CEO’s would say …We don’t sell our products, we make it compelling for our customers to buy them. We therefore have 25% of our headcount in customer care.
They live their model.