A web-based service providing tailor-made TV guides is expected to create 50 jobs in the Bay of Plenty this year as it goes global.
Ownguide.tv (the .tv being the domain of Tuvalu) has been developed by Paul Stoneham, Malcolm Helyar and Kevin Hurley. Created in Mount Maunganui over nine months, with technical advice from Microsoft, the product was launched late last month by deputy prime minister Jim Anderton.
"It's an excellent piece of Kiwi ingenuity. This Ownguide.tv is a symbol of the bright future for our economy," says Anderton. Microsoft technical marketing group manager Terry Allen calls the service "innovative".
Users can access the listings of up to 96 TV channels across eight days, with links to channel or specific programme websites. Channel listings appear side by side according to time slots. Searches are possible for specific types of programmes such as rugby or comedy, detailing the programme, its time and channel. An alert service can warn users that a certain programme is about to start, so they never need miss Shortland Street while using a PC.
Overseas, customers face a much larger plethora of tv channels and need a fast way to plan their viewing, says managing director Stoneham. "We have had interest from overseas already and we can run it efficiently from New Zealand," he claims, saying his firm expects to create 50 jobs by the year-end, mostly in Mount Maunganui.
Once the service, which is to be funded by advertising, has established itself in New Zealand a rollout is planned across Australia, Europe, the UK and US. Stoneham says his team has found websites around the world that offer some of his service, but not all, and certainly not at the same high speed and flexibility, which was made possible by technical support from Microsoft, he says.
While Ownguide.tv is aimed at consumers, Stoneham sees other business possibilities for his firm from using the internet as a useful conduit of information, though he declined to elaborate.