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At the New Zealand Herald, Holly Ryan writes Vodafone axes email services – NZ Herald

Customers with a Vodafone email address will have to switch at the end of November, when the telco plans to axe its email services after 20 years.

Email addresses affected include its Clear and Paradise services.

Vodafone had about 200,000 to 250,000 active email users but many operate dual email accounts, a Vodafone spokesperson said.

The accounts would be switched off on November 30, however, Vodafone has promised customers it will automatically forward emails from the closed accounts to a new email of the customer’s choice, for as long as they are a Vodafone customer.

While 250,000 sounds like a lot, many accounts are unused. Other accounts are rarely used.

To grasp the scale of the problem, ask yourself how long it is since a mail message arrived from any of the Vodafone account domains listed at the bottom of Ryan’s story.

Few Vodafone customers will find it hard to move to another mail provider. Many already have Gmail or Outlook.com mail accounts. For them the change means nothing more than forwarding messages if they haven’t done that already. That won’t challenge most users.

There will be stragglers who depend on a Vodafone account. They have been through a lot. Vodafone says it is killing its mail service because of problems with spam and delays. Spark went through something similar with Yahoo mail.

Users won’t miss that pain.

Vodafone should offer support for those customers who struggle with the moving process. The problem here is that customer support is not a Vodafone strength.

The problem with ISP mail

Vodafone’s move is a timely reminder of why you shouldn’t use ISP mail services. The move is also one of the reasons. ISP mail users are at the mercy of an organisation that isn’t focused on providing a first class mail service. It’s better to find a specialist who wants to excel at mail.

At the same time, an ISP mail account ties your hands. Moving from Vodafone or any other service provider is difficult if everyone you’re in touch with reaches you via a vodafone.co.nz mail address. There are often good reasons to switch ISP, so the fewer chains binding you to one, the better.

Modern ISP-provided mail services often include a webmail option, it isn’t always easy to use these across all your devices. With a Gmail or Outlook account you can sync everything across your phone, computer and other devices. You can also read your email from someone else’s computer.

Another reason to use something other than an ISP mail address is that it signals a lack of computer savvy. It tells criminals and others that you may not be as on top of technology as those people with their own custom mail addresses. In this competence hierarchy, a Gmail or Outlook address ranks higher than an ISP address.

You can find better options than Gmail and Outlook. But that’s a subject for another post.

If Vodafone dropping mail worries you, you’re doing online wrong was first posted at billbennett.co.nz

Technology journalist Bill Bennett discusses Russia’s move to crack down on virtual private networks. Also, two conflicting takes on the power of online advertising; and the day the music died: the Pandora music service closes in New Zealand and Australia.

New technology – Bill Bennett

From my speaker notes:

Virtual Private Networks

Virtual Private Networks allow people to surf the next anonymously. They also help keep data safe from online criminals.

A VPN is a safe tunnel, usually from your computer, phone or tablet to an end-point elsewhere on the internet. They are a form of encryption.

You can use a VPN to make it look as if you are connecting from elsewhere in the world. So, if you want to see content that can only be accessed from, say, the UK, choose an endpoint in the UK.

Earlier this week Russia followed China cracking down on VPNs.

Putin pushed a law banning VPNs through the Duma. China has been cracking down on VPNs since January. I had personal experience of issues with a VPN when I was in China last year.

Apple pulls VPNs from Chinese app store

Also this week, Apple pulled VPNs from its App Store in China.

Critics say Apple should have stood up to China and refused, even though that would mean losing sales maybe even pulling out of the Chinese market. On the other hand, it is complying with the law. Chinese law says VPNs need to be licensed.

The consequences of pulling out of China are huge. It is Apple’s second largest market. What’s more, China is where most of the company’s products and the components in its products are made. Bloomberg’s Gadfly has an interesting take on this.

Meanwhile… perhaps New Zealanders ought to be more familiar with VPNs

Symantec, which sells a VPN service, says New Zealanders take risks with public wi-fi – something that a VPN can protect against. About two thirds of NZers think they are safe with public wi-fi and the same number take no precautions when using it. Hardly any NZers know whether they are transmitting data safely or not. I wrote about this earlier today.

Online advertising failures and successes

Two conflicting takes on the power of online advertising:

Procter and Gamble cut US$100 million from its online advertising spend in the last quarter and noticed no discernible impact on its business. This is taken as evidence online advertising doesn’t work. Part of this is a lot of ads turn up at dubious sites and are only seen by fake traffic or bots.

Sounds like a lot of money, but P&G spent a total of US$2.5 billion on ads in the quarter.

Also says niche advertising on Facebook didn’t work either.

Motorola is a much smaller company, but it reports the money it spent on Facebook ads did nothing to help its campaign to relaunch its phone brands. It too spent on highly targeted Facebook campaigns that didn’t work.

…And yet: The New Scientist reports that ad campaigns that used artificial intelligence to target voters on Facebook were enough to swing both the US Presidential election and the Brexit referendum.

So why does one type of advertising work and the other fail?

My take is that you don’t need to shift wavering individual voters by much to swing their vote. That’s part of it. The other part is that you don’t need to influence that many voters in a tight ballot. Clinton actually won the US popular vote by around two percent, but a tight focus on key states meant moving only a tiny fraction of voters was enough to win it for Trump.

One set of researchers also pointed out that it can be more important to persuade some people to vote or not vote, than to change their choice.

The day the music died…

Pandora music service closes in New Zealand and Australia. Meanwhile Apple has dropped almost all its non-iOS iPod models. The two stories are closely related. First, the streaming music market is consolidating. That was always going to happen. Global scale is important here. It also seems users don’t like the advertising supported model much.

Meanwhile Apple’s iPhone, which, arguably is a brand extension of the iPod has eclipsed its granddad and rendering it almost obsolete. Cue squeals from people, like me, who still love their old-school iPads.

Silverdale 4.5G cell site

If you want fast mobile data now, move to Silverdale. Spark recently installed one of the world’s first 4.5G sites in the suburb.

The tower there can handle about five times as many wireless connections as today’s 4G cellular sites. Data speeds are three, four or even five times faster than you’d see elsewhere.

It’s a taste of the future. With the right equipment, people can download at gigabit speeds, although 4.5G devices are not available yet. In a few years, however, gigabit mobile data will be the new normal.

Spark New Zealand chief operating officer Mark Beder says the company chose Silverdale for its second 4.5G site because it’s a fast-growing area. It is typical of how Auckland’s outer areas will expand in coming years as the city continues to expand.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

James RosenwaxJames Rosenwax says Auckland should focus on agility and the knowledge economy as it continues to emerge as a dynamic global city.

Rosenwax leads Aecom’s Australia and New Zealand cities practice. He recently authored a report on using innovation to transform Australian cities.

He says Auckland is already on the radar for many of the world’s major companies.

The Economist Intelligence Unit rates Auckland as the world’s eighth most liveable city. Yet Rosenwax says being seventh on the Jones Lang LaSalle Investment Intensity Index is more important.

“The JLL index is a measure of a city’s ability to attract investment from global corporations”, he says.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

Sixty-nine chief executives responded to an open-ended question as to what they would like to see on the Labour Shadow Finance Minister’s policy agenda.

“Continue to constrain public expenditure to core and effective services,” advised Unitec CRO Rick Ede. “Reset taxation and investment incentives to favour productive investment instead of property investment.

“Continue the investment approach to welfare services begun by Bill English.”

Many, but not all, of the themes on Robertson’s own priority list resonate with the boardroom. With 67 per cent per cent of CEOs predicting technological advances will be the single factor with the biggest impact on business in the next five years and a further 7 per cent singling out job losses through technology, it is clear Robertson’s Future of Work initiative falls on fertile ground.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

Robertson’s four priorities:

• Find ways for industry to add value and diversify the economy: lift productivity and add value to primary industry and invest more in R&D.

• Focus on regional development and lift wages outside the main centres. Auckland’s infrastructure and housing is under pressure. Housing costs less in the regions but there are not enough good jobs.

• Future of Work project to address the challenge of technology-led change head on.

• Share the rewards from prosperity: many people work hard and yet they don’t earn enough to buy a house.

“When I attend a business dinner, the conversation often turns to inequality. Many business leaders are concerned about this. They realise it can mean both a loss of potential and it can become a drain on the economy. Even organisations like the OECD, which is hardly a left-wing body, recognises that inequality inhibits growth,” says Robertson.