New Zealand’s telecommunications shakedown continues with Orcon’s sale to Vivid Networks.
The government wading into the telecommunications business by sponsoring the UFB fibre-to-the-home network was always going to trigger change. Did anyone making those decisions expect it to be this fast and this dramatic?
Let’s run a quick ruler over the state of New Zealand’s telecommunications sector:
Telecom NZ: Formerly the largest telco by a country mile is still reeling from the Chorus demerger. The company lost 300 workers last year and plans to sack another 1200 in the coming weeks. Telecom’s Gen-i business unit recently did a part-retreat from Australia.
Vodafone: Integrating TelstraClear is like a python swallowing a lamb. Vodafone may digest the meal, but at the very least we will see hiccups as the dinner goes down. Acquisitions on this scale take years to bed down.
2degrees: Eric Hertz will be a hard act to follow.
Kordia: Selling Orcon makes sense for government-owned Kordia. Although no-one is talking about the sale price, the company should earn a premium on the $24 million it paid for Orcon in 2007. Kordia is now free to focus on the business-to-business services it is best at while the new owners have control of the most successful residential fibre service providers.
Chorus: Faces Commerce Commission moves to cut the price telcos pay for copper network access. While the government appears to be moving to change the law and the Commerce Commission mandate to shore-up Chorus’ business model, question marks remain.
Update: More disruption. Computerworld reports Gen-i is looking at buying Revera.
HP’s ElitePad is the argument for buying a Windows 8 tablet. That’s especially true for businesses hooked into Microsoft’s technology stack.
The HP ElitePad does Microsoft Office better than any other tablet – the two were made for each other. It also runs most modern Windows applications without fuss. It looks like Windows, feels like Windows and hooks directly into Windows infrastructure.
With time new Windows tablets will come along that eclipse the ElitePad 900. HP, wisely, says it plans to keep the model on sale until early next year. That will make it easier for companies to standardise on the hardware.
HP hints of ElitePads with more powerful processors waiting in the wings. That’s important.
The Atom processor powering today’s ElitePad 900 is enough to run two or three everyday apps at the same time. As I’ve already said, it handles Microsoft Office well.
For most workers the atom-powered ElitePad 900 is all the computer they will need. The processor isn’t quite powerful enough to handle more complex processing jobs – particularly those required by content creators. My music production software struggles, Photoshop struggles. I haven’t tried it, but I’m certain InDesign would struggle.
When HP shoehorns an Intel i5 or i7 processor – or their equal – into an ElitePad format, the tablet will become a full desktop PC replacement. That day isn’t far off.
- ElitePad 900 shines with Microsoft Office 365 (billbennett.co.nz)
- HP ElitePad 900 works with Apple wireless keyboard (billbennett.co.nz)
- HP ElitePad 900 display backward compatibility, feature or straight-jacket? (billbennett.co.nz)
- ElitePad makes good first impression (billbennett.co.nz)
Gartner’s February 2013 smartphone sales report estimate’s Android’s worldwide market share at 70%. That’s more than three times Apple’s iOS which has a 21% market share. Microsoft Windows Phone is on just 3%.
Android dominates, so why doesn’t Google’s smartphone software command consumer mind share?
The answer is simple. Nobody aspires to buy an Android handset.
Ordinary smartphone buyers don’t chose operating systems, they choose brands. They want an Apple or a Samsung, maybe even an HTC or Nokia.
Only a particularly rare breed of geek would talk of buying an Android.
This is a direct result of the way Google developed Android. The software is open to all comers. Samsung, HTC and the like take the basic Android OS and overlay it with their own software. They do their level best to hide Android from users.
Android was barely mentioned during Samsung’s Galaxy G4 launch. Other smartphone makers do little more than nod at Google when announcing and promoting their products.
Efforts to hide Android stepped up a notch last week when Facebook and HTC took the wraps off Facebook Home. The software is an overlay that pushes Android even further into the background.
Google’s efforts to protect the Android brand haven’t succeeded. The company bought Motorola and sells Google-branded Nexus phones which are conspicuous by their absence in New Zealand.
It isn’t entirely clear how Google makes money from Android. One theory says an Android user plugged into a Google account using Google apps delivers a steady stream of data to the company that can be mined to sell yet more advertising.
But this doesn’t always apply – certainly not in China where Google is blocked and not on an Android phone running Facebook Home. Maybe those smartphone maker software overlays also block Google’s data collection – or will do in the future.
So here’s another puzzle. If Google isn’t making money from Android, how long will it go on spending large sums of money developing the OS? Might Google unsentimentally drop Android the way it dropped Google Reader?
Twenty years ago I sat in an Auckland restaurant where a visiting Hewlett-Packard executive admitted his company wasn’t good at marketing. He told me if the company had invented sushi, it would have sold it as “cold, dead fish”.
At least one of the CEOs in the past two decades has a marketing background. And yet the company still does a poor communications job.
I recently wrote about HP’s ElitePad 900 for my monthly column in NZ Business magazine. As I’ve already mentioned elsewhere, it is an astonishingly good product. We like to use images in the magazine to help readers see what a product looks like. I stole the one at the top of the page from HP’s web site. It does the job nicely showing what the Elitepad looks like in use.
Below is the official press photograph sent by HP’s public relations team. Apart from the annoying, crass hard sell aspect, there’s almost no clue about the device’s size and how it might be used in practice.
HP still hasn’t got to first base on marketing.
- HP New Zealand losses mount, EDS purchase to blame (billbennett.co.nz)
- ElitePad makes good first impression (billbennett.co.nz)
Hewlett-Packard’s 2008 acquisition of EDS aimed to make the company more like IBM. Although it catapulted HP into second place behind IBM in the technology services market, the deal didn’t work as planned.
The business unit, now called HP Enterprise Services, has been in turmoil since formation. Instead of boosting its parent it became a drag on the company. Last year HP wrote-off US$8 billion against the US$14 billion it paid for EDS.
HP Enterprise Services hasn’t fared any better in New Zealand as Tom Pullar-Strecker reports in HP New Zealand annual loss widens to $92.5 million. He says the enterprise services unit enjoyed a strong position in the local government and corporate market but has since lost major clients.
The unit’s failing fortunes were obvious to residents on Auckland’s North Shore who over the years could watch the lights progressively switch off at the company’s Smales Farm building and the for lease signs go up.