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“Australia’s equivalent of the NZ Commerce Commission, the ACCC, found that a whopping 80 percent of Australian consumers struggle to compare the broadband speeds of different ISPs…”

— James Young-Drew

New Zealand’s consumer laws are almost identical to Australia’s, so an ACCC report on broadband speed claims has relevance here.

James Young-Drew, a solicitor with Wigley and Company1 says broadband speed transparency is a big legal compliance issue in New Zealand.

There’s help to get this right. The Australian regulator has issued a set of principles for ISPs to help customers better understand what they are buying.

How to stay onside

In a PDF on his company’s website, Young-Drew writes about the six steps New Zealand ISPs should take to stay on the right side of the Fair Trading Act.

  1. Consumers should be provided with accurate information about typical busy period speeds that the average consumer on a broadband plan can expect to receive
  2. Wholesale network speeds or theoretical speeds taken from technical specifications should not be advertised without reference to typical busy period speeds
  3. Information about the performance of promoted applications should be accurate and sufficiently prominent
  4. Factors known to affect service performance should be disclosed to consumers
  5. Performance information should be presented in a manner that is easily comparable by consumers, for example by adopting standard descriptive terms that can be readily understood and recognised, and
  6. RSPs should have systems in place to diagnose and resolve broadband speed issues.

This all sounds straightforward enough. It is important for our regulator to get this right. There’s a lot of baloney in broadband advertising and some information is downright misleading.

In particular, advertisements sometimes talk of theoretical maximum speeds which no consumer is likely to see in practice.

As Young-Drew writes:

“…broadband speeds should be marketed in a manner which is accurate, easily comparable, and descriptive of speeds that consumers can actually expect to receive in a typical busy period.

  1. Wigley and Company is a specialist IT and telecommunications law firm. It acts for some well-known local tech companies. ↩︎


deathtostock_modernworkshop-04At The Register Shaun Nichols writes:

“The tech press has dared to lean away from its core mission of making technology companies more profitable, says tech advocacy house ITIF.”

The ITIF or Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is an industry think-tank. It issued a report looking at “a change of tone in technology reporting” between the 1980s and this decade.

Long story short, it says the media moved from a positive attitude towards the industry to confrontation.

This, according to the ITIF, is because being tough on the industry makes it easier for tech media to turn a profit.

It goes on to talk about the media being ‘biased’ and distorts the public view of technology.

Yes, it’s all stuff and nonsense. There’s a lot to unpack, but here are a couple of ideas to think about.


In the past publishers made money selling advertising to technology companies. They were a great sales conduit. It worked.

The technology industry was the tech media’s most important customer. Rivers of gold poured in.

While there are publishers who publish nice stories in return for advertising dollars, that was never a great business model. Reader are not fooled. They don’t stick around for blatant propaganda.

The advertising money didn’t buy favourable coverage, at least in the better publications. It did foster a favourable attitude towards the industry. The coverage reflected this.

The partnership also meant journalists and publishers spent time in the company of tech industry people. That too is good for creating a positive attitude.

One conclusion of the ITIF report is more advertising would repair media relations.

Readers and journalists

In the old model, advertisers paid for journalism, but journalists serve readers. Few understood this then. They still don’t.

As Nichols says, we’re not industry cheerleaders. We don’t earn cheerleader, public relations or marketing-type salaries.

Our job is to inform readers. If there is more cynicism in technology media (see the next point) then that is what readers want.

Modern reporting tools mean we know what stories rate from the minute they go online. Guess what? Readers are less likely to click on happy-slappy, isn’t everything wonderful darling stories.

In other words, journalists and publishers respond to reader demands.

Don’t shoot the messenger if they now have a darker view of the tech industry. Get your own house in order.

It’s all nonsense anyway

To argue tech media is meaner than it ways, say, thirty years ago is bonkers. The big newspapers and media sites are full of thin press release rewrites. It is common for blatant propaganda to appear as factual news.

Take, for the sake of argument, Computerworld New Zealand. Thirty years ago, even a decade ago, it was breaking news stories. It was quoted in Parliament. Today, it runs nothing that didn’t start life in a public relations office.

That’s not to say all the tech media is soft. It isn’t. But the ratio of soft stories to more hard hitting news is off the scale. You have to wonder if the ITIF is paying attention.

Frazer Scott Microsoft NZ“No-one has the breadth of services and offerings that Microsoft brings to bear in this space”.

— Microsoft New Zealand chief marketing and operations officer Frazer Scott

At Intergen Dynamics Day 2016, Frazer Scott outlined Microsoft’s strategy to help companies with their digital transformation. This is the context for Dynamics 365.

It all boils down to four pillars and three trends.

Scott says we are living through a fourth industrial revolution. Or, as Microsoft describes these things Industrial Revolution 4.0.

He says: “There’s a blurring of the divide between the physical and digital worlds”.

Microsoft Azure

While the trends are big data, analytics and cloud computing, Scott says cloud is the underlying technology. Hence Microsoft’s massive investment in its Azure cloud service.

Microsoft four pillars of digital transformation are:

  • Engage your customers. Scott says the goal is to have a “market segmentation of one”. This means using analytics tools to mine data for a complete view of each customer. Then gain insight into the customer before giving them a personalised experience.
  • Empower your employees. Recognise they are mobile and celebrate individual work styles. You need to realise that allowing employees to be more creative will pay off with greater responsiveness. Also use tools to give your staff better insight so they can make better decisions.
  • Optimise your operations. A modern business needs to be more responsive and agile.
  • Transform your products. Is about disrupting markets with new products and services, even by introducing new business models. Instead of looking back, you can use data and analytics to anticipate what will happen.

Dick Smith

This morning mail from Dick Smith arrived in my in-box.

You may think: “Nothing unusual there”. After all, many people who subscribed to the Dick Smith mailing list will have had the same message.

Yet, I didn’t subscribe to anything from Dick Smith.

Dick Smith’s receivers sent the message to an address I haven’t used since I left Australian in 2004.

While I never signed up to any mailing list, I did give my address to a sales person in a store in Sydney many, many years ago.

At the time, I wanted to buy something that wasn’t in stock. The salesperson asked me to leave an email address and phone number so the store could let me when it had stock.

He assured me the address would not be used for marketing purposes. It was only then that I agreed to hand it over.

This was so long ago I forgot what the product was.

To its credit, the old Dick Smith organisation kept its word through at least two changes of ownership. I just checked that old account. There have been no other communications from Dick Smith.

Yet my address has stayed on the database for at least 12 years. I wasn’t even aware it was there. And the receivers sold it without my consent.

I suspect this is illegal. It may be a breach of contract. It is certainly a breach of trust.

The only conclusion I can reach is that any promise to keep data safe is worthless.

Update: More bad faith from the Dick Smith receivers. The form to opt out asks for my full name, then wants me to confirm my address. That could be just another way of confirming data for the database. There’s no mention of my rights here either.

Rod Drury AWS Summit Auckland 2015

Rod Drury AWS Summit Auckland 2015First a correction to the quote in Speed, cost behind Xero move to PaaS, AWS:

Next a few interesting ideas were left in my notebook after I interviewed Xero CEO Rod Drury for a magazine article. These were too good to waste and provide insight into a fast growing technology company[1]:

On marketing Xero:
“Xero is a product for small businesses. They need all the complexity found in enterprise software. Yet because of its nature we have to sell it like a consumer product. You can’t go one-on-one with every customer. It’s intensive. There are a lot of up front costs.”

Drury went on to say the Xero business model is partly about spending a lot up front to get small annuity revenues.

On being profitable now:
“You can’t fake this stuff. We have more than a quarter of a billion cash in the bank, that’s a big moat to protect us.

“There are plenty of opportunities swim to the side”. [2]

“We’re executing well and growing faster than our competitors. We can’t keep hiring new people at the rate we currently are. Eventually our numbers will cross over”. [3]


  1. If you’re an editor or publisher and can use this material or similar please get in touch. I’ve notebooks full of gems.  ↩
  2. This is a great metaphor, in essence he’s saying Xero could stop spending on growth tomorrow and those monthly subscription fees would deliver a respectable profit. However, Drury and Xero have big ambitions and a war chest full of cash to help pursue them.  ↩
  3. Xero is burning through cash as it builds a organsiation large enough to deal with its long-term ambition. That means putting feet on the ground; developers and sales people. They all have to be hired now before the revenue stream is big enough to pay their wages. He’s saying here that the point where the revenue is greater than the wage bill is in sight.  ↩