The Wrap: 17 April

The Wrap: 17 April


I'd hazard a guess that most Trade Me users have at one point or another thought to themselves: "Damn, it's going to cost me an arm and a leg to sell this bucket of Marmite." Trade Me is a monopoly. It has most of New Zealand's online auction market cornered and with that can demand what it wants from customers, without the fear of a competitor swooping in with a better offer.  That's why it's admirable to see competitors popping up to wrest Trade Me's crown from atop its head. I dream of a day where there are no percentage success fees – and Wheedle shares this dream.

Over the weekend the fledgling online auction company relaunched after a disastrous initial launch last year fraught with security problems. Most of these seem to have been rectified and the company has already started an ad campaign to lure back users – but is it too little too late? Sella bowing out of the auction game indicates there's not enough room to play in the tiers below Trade Me and Wheedle faces the additional challenge of its notorious first launch. Already in the technology community the word Wheedle is synonmous with failure.

I for one hope Wheedle (or some other Trade Me competitor) does well – because I like paying less for things.  However, while lower success fees are attractive, being able to sell my bucket of Marmite to a large number of bidders is even more so. To compete these businesses will need to do more than be on par with Trade Me in terms of functionality, it'll need to out innovate the heck out of the online auction space to be compelling enough for people to leave the larger player.

Is this something Carl Rees and his team at Wheedle will be able to respond to? Only time will tell.

Facebook Home (should stay home?)

Facebook launched its Home app for Android last week to much hype. Initial reviews of the user interface overlay have been negative, to put it kindly. Although I disagree with the NZ Herald's Pat Pilcher who says it's a complete failure, I do see some of his gripes. The constant downloading of photos is data intensive and a drain on the battery and while the added features are visually appealing they aren't very useful.

But let's give this billion-user social network, with its hundreds of engineers, the benefit of the doubt that it will have something more compelling in a future update.

Kordia says adios to Orcon

Orcon has left the building – literally. Orcon staff located inside of Kordia's Auckland HQ vacated the premises this week and vice versa, following its sale to a group of New Zealand businessmen.

Good news is Kordia says there'll be no job losses from this deal – goodness knows New Zealand cannot take the brunt of more telco sector workers out of a job.

Crowdsourced justice in Boston

In tough times people come together and this is also true on the cold harsh internet. Authorities in the US are asking for people who were at the event to send in their Facebook photos, Instagrams, YouTube videos and even Vines.

The first phone launch

Check out this snippet from National Geographic's new miniseries 'The 80s' which shows one of the first cellphones in the US being unveiled at a media event. It's good to know that 30 years on phone launches still have this much pomp and ceremony.

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