Companies drop like flies
What a week it's been. If you're still employed in the IT industry in New Zealand consider yourself lucky. While companies do fold, fall over, drop off and generally cease to exist all the time, this week has seen a string of closures.
The end of last week saw web design high flier WebMedia close its doors and this week saw Genie Systems go into receivership, a liquidator appointed at systems integrator Network Solutions and online retailer CD Star's website has been taken down for "planned maintenance", whatever that means. Wireless data company Econz is also shedding staff.
So what does it all mean? Why are these companies, some with high profiles and exposure overseas, collapsing?
Probably it's down to a combination of factors. The worldwide economic downturn hasn't really made much of an impression here so far, but this could be one sign of its impact. Ironically, the companies affected are those that have made it to the big league - both WebMedia and Genie Systems had secured big contracts overseas.
On top of that tech companies are still struggling with the fallout from the tech wreck and, with the terrorist bombings in the US forcing the stock market down to basement levels, venture capital has all but dried up for a lot of these companies.
Genie demise blamed on US market - IDGNet
ECONZ down but not out - IDGNet
Net developer WebMedia pulls the plug - NZ Herald
Telecommunication tit for tat
Speaking of slagging each other off in public (what, you mean we weren't? How peculiar) Telecom and Clear got jiggy with it this week over their interconnection agreement. This is the deal whereby Clear customers are allowed to call Telecom customers and vice versa.
Those of you with long memories may recall Telecom's introduction of the 0867 numbering scheme in 1999. This was in response to the phenomenal rise in the number of Clear customers calling Telecom customers. So many, in fact, that for the first time since the agreement had been signed Telecom would end up paying Clear around $14 million.
To cut a long and still ongoing story short, Telecom and Clear signed a new one-year deal which ran out at the end of September. After several months of negotiations the two sides had still to reach an agreement, so Telecom announced it would introduce a new contract to ensure Clear could continue to operate. Clear retaliated by announcing Telecom had insisted on adding all kinds of clauses to the contract including things like getting 48-hours advanced notice of any Clear press release and the rights to veto any release Clear was making. Telecom told everyone Clear was in arrears to the tune of several million dollars and then the can was really open and it was worms for Africa.
Telecom was also in the wars with Vodafone over the newly minted deal to allow text messages to flow freely and easily between networks. Vodafone has always enabled all of its customers to text message each other; Telecom is late to the party, in part because the technology it uses wouldn't allow it. Now they've put together an agreement to allow cross-platform text messaging but there's one slight problem - the technology can't cope with the demand.
Vodafone blames Telecom saying it hasn't got the capacity to cope with the service, Telecom says it's an equipment failure.
Either way it's a costly business - both companies have been heavily advertising the capability in the hope of capturing more users to their existing networks and to the new data-rich 2.5G networks they've put in place.
Paul Swain, minister for telecommunications, says the new regulatory regime will be in place by Christmas if not sooner. The new commissioner had better be ready to hit the ground running because this could well end up being the first thing in the new appointee's in tray.
Last gasp of a monopoly says Clear - IDGNet
New text message service suspended - NZ Herald
Here are the two media releases from Telecom and Clear over their stoush.
Pressroom is the part of the IDGNet website where we display the press
releases we receive. In other publications these are sometimes called
"news" and end up on the front page.
Telecom offers continued service to Clear - Pressroom
Telecom demands 70% price hike - Clear says "no" - Pressroom
Magazine Publishers Awards
You may have noticed that this FryUp wasn't all that readable at 11am this morning. Personally I blame the MPA Awards held last night. Must have been something in the food I think because quite frankly the thought of a bunch of my fellow journalists wandering Queen Street in search of a kareoke bar at one in the morning makes my stomach turn.
Still, a good time was had by all. We were robbed of the best website of the year by Cuisine magazine, which is probably fair enough if you have a look at the site.
IDG didn't do too badly, overall. PC World was judged best business magazine, not best IT magazine as the National Business Review claims (I'm sure their role as self-proclaimed best business publication didn't enter into that decision). Unlimited won best cover, general manager Martin Bell won best publishing executive and Internet Magazine won best launch/relaunch, which is all too appropriate really.
Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to the losers, apologies for the lateness of the FryUp but I think a wee lie down is in order.