23 December 1996
Remember, it's your click-throughs that pay for Aardvark's production.
Other good Reads:
If you've got a site that you think is "worth a look", drop me an email and if I think you're right, I'll mention it here.
If you like this page, tell your friends, relatives, associates and mother. They'll love you for it!
A weekly E-zine about the NZ internet industry
THE AARDVARK AWARDS
THE BEST ISP AWARD GOES TO:
THE MOST FAR LEAST BEST ISP AWARD GOES TO:
THE BEST WEB-SITE AWARD GOES TO:
THE MOST FAR LEAST BEST WEB-SITE AWARD GOES TO:
THE BEST WEB DESIGNER AWARD GOES TO:
THE BEST WEB BROWSER AWARD GOES TO:
THE BEST PRODUCT OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO:
THE MOST FAR LEAST BEST PRODUCT OF THE YEAR GOES TO:
THE NETIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO:
Aardvark's Own Awards
THE BEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE INDUSTRY AWARD GOES TO:
Also, by romping off overseas just before Xtra encountered a significant crisis, Chris evened up the playing field by allowing other ISPs to pick up a whole heap of customers who weren't impressed by the way that the Telecom PR people treated them like mushrooms.
THE MOST NEWSWORTHY PLAYER AWARD GOES TO:
THE AWARD OF VALOUR GOES TO:
In particular, I think it's a shame that so many people have written off Xtra's web site on the basis of early impressions.
As a certain "award winning" web designer is quick to point out - "You only get one chance to make a first impression" and the original designers of the Xtra web-site (and those responsible for approving that design) really messed up - to the degree that much of the improvement achieved in recent months now goes unnoticed and unrecognised.
Don't get me wrong - the Xtra site still has some quite significant deficiencies (such as the way it uses frames and the difficulty associated with finding stuff), but there's also a hell of a lot of really good content hidden away in there. If you think my award is unreasonable - take half an hour and really poke around on Xtra, you might be surprised what you find. But you will have to look hard - too much of the good stuff seems to be hidden in nooks and crannies.
THE GREASED PIG AWARD GOES TO:
Single-handedly they turned urgent repairs to a gaping security hole into a "a planned system enhancement". Later they turned a huge lack of capacity and resultant attrocious levels of service and customer support into "unexpected success in the market".
What is more frightening than Telcom's P.R. power is the way the average NZer takes the press releases and statements which they issue forth as gospel. What does this say about the average NZer?
I'm sure that if a nuclear bomb was dropped on Auckland they'd tell us that we should just slap on some SPF15 and enjoy the extra sunshine - and what's worse, 98% of the country would believe them!
THE I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S TRUE AWARD GOES TO:
Xtra were claiming that they were already ahead of their projected sales figures at the time the pricing was dropped - so why was it done? Greed? A wish to unfairly dominate the market by squeezing out the little guys? The Commerce Commission will be attempting to answer this question early next year.
If Xtra were any other company, they'd have collapsed as a victim of "overtrading" - an effect which takes its toll of many otherwise successful startup ventures every year. However, when dad's got bottomless pockets, this isn't a problem is it?
THE YEAR IN SUMMARY
The most interesting aspect of the year has been the sheer amount of money that some players have pumped into creating a presence.
Xtra made a huge impact when they stumbled onto the scene, seemingly with their shoelaces tied together and drool running from their eager mouth. Despite this, and an ongoing series of disasters which would have killed-off any lesser operation, Xtra certainly do have a lot of subscribers - and (shock, horror, probe!), a fair few of them seem happy with what they're getting for their dollar.
NBR spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a content-rich site which has become a "love it or hate it" location. There's lots of stuff there - but it's so poorly indexed and designed that you've really got to fight your way past the site to get to the content. I think an extra $50K spent on redesigning the user-interface would pay huge dividends. Just take a look at the total dearth of activity in their "Chat Rooms" for an example of how nobody can be bothered battling the site to have their say. However - credit where credit's due, these guys reckon they're launching in profit-mode and there are few other sites on the Web which can claim the same. It must be said though that the revenues are possibly "in spite of" the web site rather than because of it.
Clear had enough savvy to look at Xtra's follies earlier in the year and "do it right" when they launched. No big noise, no ambitious sales targets, consultation with industry experts before the launch, and more than adequate support resources has meant that they are reportedly doing "very well thank you". BUT... the honey-moon's almost over and already people are starting to realise that the Clear site is merely a link-launch-pad, and despite its pretty escutcheon, the content is largely being "shuffled" rather than updated. Clear are going to have to pay more attention to NZ Web content if they expect to get ongoing support from within the local content-production industry.
MY THANKS TO...
Thanks also to those who have advertised on Aardvark - I hope you've gotten value for your money.
But most of all, thanks to Aardvark readers. Without your regular visits to this site and your support of the advertisers, none of this would be any fun.
Merry Christmas to all.
So You Don't Forget!
CONFIDENTIALITY: Note that your email address will be kept totally confidential and not released to any third parties for any reason. Aardvark values the patronage of its readers and won't be compromising that patronage for the sake of a quick buck! (besides which it's probably illegal under the privacy act :-)
Feel free to drop me a line if you have any comments on this publication or interesting news you think might appeal to Aardvark readers.. I'm always keen to receive criticism (constructive or otherwise).
The entire contents of this publication are copyright 1996 to Bruce Simpson, all rights reserved. Don't copy it without my permission - just ask, I'm unlikely to refuse any reasonable request.
If you want to link to this page, check out Aardvark's linking policies