A Wallaby in the hand beats cranky customers

Ian Morrish might be the happiest man at Microsoft New Zealand. Not only is he proudly in possession of a rare Wallaby PDA-cum-cellphone, but he's also immune to bothersome customer questions about software licensing.

Ian Morrish might be the happiest man at Microsoft New Zealand. Not only is he proudly in possession of a rare Wallaby PDA-cum-cellphone, but he’s also immune to bothersome customer questions about software licensing.

“I just say ‘Sorry, licensing’s not my area’ when customers ask about it,” says Morrish. As a Microsoft technical specialist, he says customers take his word for it and content themselves with extracting product-related information.

Morrish is one of about 20 Microsoft staff travelling with the Tech Pacific Showcase. The event, which featured an array of products from the vendors for which Tech Pacific acts as distributor, drew about 3500 reseller and end-user attendees in Auckland on Tuesday. Four massive trucks of exhibits, accompanied by 200 Tech Pacific and vendor staff, made their way to Wellington's Queens Wharf venue on Friday, before heading to the Convention Centre in Christchurch yesterday.

Among exhibitors was Conduit, an offshoot of former staunch Tech Pacific competitor Renaissance. Project manager Jane O’Connor says these days Conduit sells an e-commerce package, Delta, which resellers use to do business with Tech Pacific.

The Conduit stand also featured Decode, a newly launched document mapping service aimed at small and medium-sized organisations looking to establish electronic trading links with suppliers and customers.

The Wallaby held by Microsoft’s Morrish isn’t yet on the market. But Vodafone, with whose network it works, says it will be available within a few weeks. Network approval tests are expected to be completed this week. The $2000 device runs Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system and in its present form can send data via the GPRS network at about 30kbit/s. A software upgrade due in the next six weeks will lift the data rate to the “high 30kbit/s”, says Vodafone product support analyst Mathew Bambury.

The device also features impressive handwriting recognition software, which did a creditable job of interpreting this journalist’s scrawl.

Morrish says he hasn’t yet exceeded $5 a month in data charges, which is the cost of 1MB of traffic.

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