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25th August 1997
Cup of gold?
A few weeks ago I did a quick round-up of Americas Cup Web sites and found that there are quite a few planning to capitalise on the international interest that will soon be focused on this event.

Well it appears that Net-entrepreneur, Peter Belt, operator of Web World and The Plug has very optimistic plans with respect to his Cup-related Web site.

Living at www.ac2000.org.nz and also at www.americas.cup.co.nz, his site certainly makes no bones about the fact that it is after the advertiser's dollar. If you total up the figures on the rate-card, you'll see that (providing he can sell all the space), Mr Belt ought to get some $225,000 from the site. Overly optimistic?

I wonder if the Americas Cup organisers have any legal ownership of the name "Americas Cup"? If so, we could see a lot of new BMWs as all those infringing domain names get squashed by the suits from the USA.

Perhaps the biggest problem Peter will have is convincing advertisers that his "unofficial" site has enough of a "killer advantage" to justify what would be a significant expenditure in NZ Web advertising terms. Certainly its appeal will probably be limited to companies who are looking to promote themselves to an international audience since there are a lot more effective ways to spend $25K if you're trying to sell to the local market.

Mr Belt's site is going to have to compete head on with upwards of a dozen other sites created by other independents, the individual challengers, and (of course) the official site developed by Xtra. So what's your angle Peter?

And speaking of Xtra - I wonder what the connection is between the US site americascupnews.com and Xtra? They have the Telecom logo and a link back to the Xtra front-page which implies either a very high level of philanthropy - or some kind of working relationship.

One thing's for certain - the Net's sure going to be the place to go for Cup information!

Where's the beef?

ASB Bank
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My door is always open
I've got them worried!
As I reported a while back, Telecom Directories are preparing to officially launch their Yellow Pages Web site next month. They're planning to spend a reasonable amount of money promoting the site through banner ads on other popular Web sites - a good strategy.

Funny thing was, they refused to place any advertising with me unless I took down my Yellow DotTM site and with it, the page which points out how the UK Yellow pages are giving away a package that Telecom Directories here in NZ are planning to charge customers around $600 a year for.

I think most regular Aardvark readers will realise that I'm not about to compromise my ideals for the sake of a few ad-dollars.

Why resort to such back-door tactics when a simple friendly request to discuss the options would have been far more likely to produce results?

Boy, these guys sure know how to wave a red rag at a bull - that I can tell you.

Maybe this says something about their attitude to dealing with competition in the marketplace - I don't know.

One thing's for sure - those in the hosting and Web design businesses, activities which are most likely to be adversely affected by Yellow Pages' entry into the market might be well advised to take note of how they deal with their "problems".

Is this the end for Netscape?
Microsoft have con(vinc)ed Apple into making Internet Explorer the default browser for the Mac and the hard work they've been doing to convince the entire world that their browser is best might just be paying off.

As reported in today's Aardvark Daily, Telecom Xtra have announced that they'll now be shipping MSIE on their installation CDROM which could (given Xtra's present rates of growth) see Netscape's share of the local browser market further eroded.

Fortunately for Netscape there are three bright lights on the horizon. The first is their move to slim down their browser and unbundle it from all the other superfluous stuff that seems to have crept in recently.

Secondly Microsoft appear to be standing firm in their refusal to fully implement all of the latest Java specification in their browser.

Thirdly there's Microsoft's move to turn MSIE4 into an all-singing, all-dancing, piece of software that takes over your PC and becomes part of your desktop.

I suspect that a good number of users will turn up their nose at Microsoft's megalithic option then breathe a sigh of relief and embrace the "less is more" concept - I know that I've been arguing for a smaller, simpler, more reliable browser for years.

However... it must be said that Microsoft have reached critical mass and Netscape will have to be very, very careful not to trip with the ball. Microsoft's share of the browser market is still growing strongly and unless they time everything perfectly, Netscape could become the VisiCalc of the browser market - eclipsed almost overnight by a better-marketed product.

The VisiCalc of browsers?
What's wrong with NZ?
I Won an Award!
I don't know that I should be crowing about it though.

The Soggy Parsnip has chosen the 7am TV Pages as one of its weekly picks. The soggy Parsnip is of course a (deservedly) popular Net-critic site that focuses on many of the Web follies in a similar way to Aardvark's own ICBIT award.

The point raised by Soggy is a good one though... why are some parts of 7am being hosted in the US rather than on local soil? Why are those charged for their Net traffic by volume having to pay extra to access what should be a local site?

Well the answer's simple - COST.

Once you build a popular site here in NZ, the cost of IP traffic can become very high. Let's face it - there's not a lot of ad dollars around just yet so the cost of delivering your content to the market can make the difference between a small profit and a big loss.

With US-based hosting costing as little as US$10 per month, flat rate, it makes sense for high-traffic sites use servers located off-shore.

That doesn't mean that everyone should move away from NZ hosting though. Certainly there are probably only twenty or thirty sites in NZ that generate enough traffic to justify the shift. The average business Web presence site will find the benefits of being locally hosted more than outweigh any minor savings they may gain from shifting off-shore.

Some parts of 7am generate huge amounts of traffic, upwards of 30GB per month and there's no way that I could afford to run the entire site from NZ, even given the extremely good rates and service that I receive from my local hosting service.

Of course I could choose a flat-rate local hosting service, but these often tend to be of lower performance - having set a flat rate by amortising their available bandwidth over a greater number of users thereby suffering from clogged pipes at peak times.

So does it really hurt to have a high-traffic Web site hosted in the USA? Does it disadvantage local users?

I don't think so. The ISPs I've spoken to say that their users tend to spend most of their time surfing US-based sites anyway so obviously the small extra cost associated with international IP charges (if you're on a volume-based service) can't be too menacing.

Another factor is that the number of volume-based users has dropped significantly in recent months. Telecom, ClearNet, Voyager and IHUG account for the vast majority of Internet accounts in NZ and they're all either time-based or flat-rate.

I won't debate the merits of which charging system is best - suffice to say that I have both volume and time-based accounts because their is no "best".

I Can't Believe It's True!

Now here's an example of a site that speaks volumes about the product it advertises. I wonder if the owners ran out of gas on their way to finish it or whether they just died from the toxic emissions of their car exhausts. At least it's honest about just how effective the device really is - just click to find out what it will do for your car's power output and fuel savings - need I say more!

Do I get free steak knives?

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