Magazine article New Zealand Management

Hot Stuff: This Year's Top Technologies Plus What to Expect in 2007

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Hot Stuff: This Year's Top Technologies Plus What to Expect in 2007

Article excerpt

It's been an exciting year for information technology and communications (ICT). For the first time since the dotcom bust of the early 2000s, there's been a buzz in the air. And it's not all talk--ICT spending is increasing. According to research company, IDC, Kiwi companies were predicted to increase spending as a percentage of turnover from an average of 2.9 percent in 2005 to 3.5 percent in 2006--a healthy 20 percent increase.

We asked IDC's country manager Graeme Muller and industry blogger Richard MacManus (of ReadWriteWeb) to summarise this year's ICT trends and what's likely to be hot in 2007.

THE YEAR THAT WAS Locally there were two standouts. First was Fairfax's March purchase of Trade Me for $700 million. Sam Morgan, Trade Me's founder, and eight of his investors became overnight members of NBR's rich list.

The deal also shook up the publishing, technology and business communities proving there's serious money to be made--and lost--on the web.

In August, Realestate.co.nz--a joint venture between the Real Estate Institute and five agencies--announced it would spend $2 million competing with Trade Me's property listings. Recruitment agencies and job-boards like Seek must surely be considering how to counter Trade Me's job listings. And Telecom is pouring money hand-over-fist into its online consumer play, Ferrit.

The second big local event was the Government's decision in May to unbundle the local loop. Overnight, Telecom's share price plummeted, and newspapers led with headlines like "$1.1 billion wiped off Telecom's value as shares plunge" (New Zealand Herald, 4 May).

Theresa Gattung appeared publicly late in May looking chastened. She promised "[Telecom] will play by the new rules, we will be open, we will be true to our word" and asked "judge us by the evidence, judge us by the changes you see".

Since the announcement, Telecom and its competitors have continued scrapping. Downstream ADSL speeds have increased, but slow upstream speeds, high-contention rates at the exchanges, data caps and low wholesale margins have hampered growth.

Internationally there have been two major focuses. The first is "Googlewatching"--keeping tabs on new Google products, acquisitions, or what competitors like Microsoft, Yahoo, Ebay and Amazon are doing to counter Google's growing dominance. Google is the new 800-pound gorilla and whatever it does is news.

In 2006 Google has:

* swallowed up popular free video-sharing website YouTube in one US$1.65 billion gulp.

* inked a $900 million deal with Murdoch's Fox Corp to provide search and advertising on Fox sites, including MySpace;

* purchased and relaunched web-based word-processing application Writely;

* launched online calendar and spreadsheet applications; and

* launched Google Checkout--an ecommerce payment service.

Google's competitors have been busy. In March, Amazon launched wholesale data storage service S3, followed in August by a beta launch of "Elastic compute cloud"--a grid-based, on-demand processing service.

Ebay and Yahoo have snuggled up together, announcing in May that Yahoo would serve display ads to Ebay's US users and promote Paypal--Ebay's payment service--to Yahoo users. In August, Ebay signed Google to serve ads to international Ebay users. A dollar each way, perhaps?

Microsoft has been working on Windows Live, its web-based start-page competitor to Google's Desktop and startups like Netvibes. It also launched OfficeLive--a website construction, hosting and web-application site.

Speaking of Microsoft--2006 has been the year of Vista delays. Shipping is now expected in January 2007.

In June, Gates anointed Ray Ozzie (father of Lotus Notes) as his technical successor and stepped down as CEO. Ozzie looks set to pursue the strategy outlined in his famously leaked memo (October 2005) highlighting a trend towards "software-as-a-service" and signalling another strategic u-turn at Microsoft. …

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