Auckland ISP Imax has closed down, handing its remaining customers over to Internet Prolink and blaming the marketing might of Xtra.
Owner Justin Maxwell says the trajectory of his business changed "from the day Xtra went to $2.50 an hour - that's not sour grapes, just a simple fact. We have always been a small company, but we suddenly went from steady growth, about a customer a day, to new customers drying up completely.
"We lost a few customers direct to Xtra, but we've always had a fairly high socio-economic profile anyway, people who do travel and leave town. The difference was that the market just emptied out for us.
"We've tried pretty hard over the last few months to re-orient the business towards perhaps the small business people who would be willing to pay a few dollars extra for high-quality service, because our customers always told us the service was what they appreciated about us.
"We actually put up our prices slightly to go for that niche, but it hasn't worked out. We've had one new customer in the last two months and that was a direct referral. I still fear for the other small companies in the market. You just can't market against Xtra."
Imax has been telehoused by Iprolink's sister company ProNet for the last few months, so the transfer of the remain 180 Imax customers to Iprolink was a natural step. Iprolink's Craig Anderson says his company will take over the Imax domains and waive establishment fees for its customers who, if they take up the offer, will go to volume charging rather than Imax's time-volume hybrid."
Maxwell says he will continue with the system adminstrator day job he has had for some time.