SP LibertyOne, an Australian new media company, buys Clearview, a New Zealand Web solutions company. Telecom, the 400-pound gorilla of the New Zealand telecommunications market, builds its stake in AAPT, a mid-sized carrier in Australia. LibertyOne pursues an alliance with AAPT for the development of Web technology for content provision, portal customisation and unified messaging. There is every chance Clearview will help develop that technology. If it wasn’t already obvious that the development of the New Zealand Internet industry is entwined with that of Australia, it certainly is now. And New Zealand won’t always be the little brother. For all its corporate ballyhoo, LibertyOne’s other Web developer, Zivo, bills only a little more than Clearview annually, and has never completed an end-to-end corporate job of the scale of, say, Clearview’s project for Lion Nathan. And Zivo’s reference site for its database programming abilities, News Real Estate ("a fantastic example of the Digital Nervous System in action", according to Bill Gates), has been off air with "technical difficulties". The size of the Australian market is also critical for companies such as Ihug, whose wholesale bandwidth business with around 120 Australian Internet service providers is an important hedge against conditions in the lopsided New Zealand retail market. Don’t be surprised if Ihug starts to buy up a few Australian ISPs later this year. On the other hand, learning to operate in the small New Zealand market has probably been good discipline for New Zealand Internet developers. For example, the big Microsoft-Packer joint venture, NineMSN, may have made its core site into one of Australia’s most popular Web destinations, but the relatively small new media team at Wilson & Horton has moved faster and farther on a fraction of the budget this year. Having promised nearly a year ago to bring the local ACP Magazines stable online, NineMSN now appears to be the main obstacle to those magazines’ own Web aspirations. The impression persists that NineMSN feels it has bigger fish to fry. Nonetheless, the big new media enterprises across the Tasman —LibertyOne, eCorp and NineMSN — are likely to become a fact of life on this side of the Tasman. They will look here for both skills and an audience. And, hopefully, they may bring here what Australia already has — a regular, broad-based survey of local Web traffic. As those companies push ahead, they — and the rest of us — can measure their progress via the likes of "Where did we go in Australia?", which samples ISPs’ proxy server logs to compile a list of the country’s top 100 Web sites every week. Before we begin to engage new markets, it would, frankly, be useful to know where we’re at. Russell Brown edits the @IDG online news service. Contact Russell at email@example.com
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