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Dateline: 17 March 2000 Early Edition
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nZoom.com is not NZoom.com
The long-awaited "portal" site from TVNZ has finally reached the Web -- so how does it stack up and is really "the home page for New Zealanders" as claimed?

NZoom.com is certainly a welcome addition to the local Webspace. It's been quite some time since we've seen a new entry in the "all things to all people" category.

To date, despite several attempts by various sites to become the quintessential starting point for local websurfers, nobody has really been able to lay claim to the crown.

NZoom.com faces some stiff competition from the likes of The NZ Herald, NZ City and Xtra, and it will be interesting to see which of these sites ultimately scores the most regular visitors.

As far as the design and layout of NZoom.com goes there's little to criticise. It's bright, airy and easy to navigate.

From a content perspective there's really little that wasn't already available from TVNZ's previous sites (TVOne, TV2, OneNews and OneBusiness) -- all that NZoom.com appears to do is repackage this content into a nicely consistent interface.

TVNZ has made a lot of noise about its tie-up with the US Snap.com website and a significant amount of NZoom.com's content consists of links to a re-branded version of the Snap site. While this does make the NZoom.com site appear to be big and rich in content, it's really quite a disappointment for something billed as "the home page for New Zealanders."

I was hoping that being clearly targeted at NZers, NZoom.com would have far more relevance to our local webspace. For example, clicking on "Retailers" in the "Web Directory" at the bottom of the page doesn't bring up a list of local online stores as one might expect from such a site -- instead it gives a list of mainly US-based e-tailers.

In fact -- apart from the banner at the top, can you spot the difference between clicking on the regular Snap.com retail link and the NZoom.com retail link?

So in summary -- NZoom.com doesn't do anything wrong -- but it is disappointingly devoid of new, NZ-relevant content and appears to be little more than a new wrapper on existing TVNZ content combined with a few links to snap.com. It really is nZoom.com rather than NZoom.com.

I was really hoping that it'd be wild and fantastic -- a real stand-out site capable of wooing me into changing the startup page on my browser -- but alas it hasn't done that (yet).

Will NZoom.com outpace its rivals?

Well it certainly has a strong edge in TVNZ's ability to cross-promote it via their TV broadcasts -- but then again, XTRA already has a huge captive audience, the NZ Herald has other attractive elements such as classified advertising and NZCity is simply has a more New Zealand feel to it.

Good work TVNZ, the site is great -- as far as it goes -- but to become "the" NZ homepage you're going to have to offer some kind of "killer feature" that none of the other pretenders have.

Of course my services as a consultant in this area are always available for a mere fraction of John Hawkesby's salary.

And I have to ask: why does it takes 50 people to maintain this site?

Free republication rights available on request


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