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Cue Violins Please... 12 December 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

Perhaps because we were so slow to jump on the "dot-com" bandwagon, New Zealand has had few high-profile failures of the boo.com variety.

But even our massive inertia isn't protecting us from bearing the burden of questionable decisions and unreasonable expectations -- as the recent bad news from Flying Pig shows.

And now, after flushing nearly $3 million down the toilet while trying to become an Internet success story, e-Force has admitted that it got it wrong.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
Ability for cellphones to... - Joe

cell phones... - Rob

Waitakere - Lack of Wideband... - Peter

Business Cards... - Jon

Business Card exchange... - Matthew

Have Your Say

So what did e-Force do wrong?

Hell, their "portal" site is quite nice. It has lots of engaging content and a real community spirit. In fact I can find little to criticise (except maybe a few broken links -- but who an I to talk?)

The problem is not in the concept, nor the implementation -- its demise appears to be the result of a complete lack of solid market research.

Anyone who was actively involved in the Internet at the time eForce chose to reinvent itself as an online company could have told them that the market simply wasn't large enough to support such a venture -- and probably wouldn't reach this critical mass for at least four or five years.

I fear that, once again, a group of people with wallets bigger than their brains have simply put aside their normal, rational, business thinking and jumped on something which looked like it was a runaway train to the Internet goldmine.

The really sad thing is that the $3 million which has disappeared into this ill-researched venture could have probably been put to much better use by those small startups who have done their homework and are trying to attract investor interest for really viable new-economy ventures based on sound research and solid business models.

Why Don't They?
From Aardvark's "Why don't they do that?" department...

While I was in Singapore I realised how amazing it was that cellphone manufacturers seem to have overlooked an incredibly powerful and (at least to me) useful feature in their little bits of ear-jewelry.

I'm talking about the ability for cellphones to perform a close-range wireless exchange of virtual business cards.

How many times have you met someone and discovered that you're out of business cards -- or perhaps they are? The hassle of writing down their details or trying to remember their name is a royal pain.

I know that some PDAs come with an infra-red data-download facility which allows this kind of virtual business card exchange -- but I can't see people opening their briefcases and dragging out their Palm Pilot every time they shake hands with someone they don't know. How much better it would be to simply program your phone with your virtual details (including a picture perhaps) and, before an important meeting, set it to automatically exchange this data with other phones in the room. After (say) 10 minutes it would then stop collecting data so that you don't end up accumulating megabytes of useless data as you walk down a crowded street.

When you get back to your PC or PDA you could simply download the data and, if you're an old dead tree fan, even print them out for your Rolodex.

Come on Ericson, Nokia, Motorola and the rest -- let's have some really practical functionality before you get too carried away with WAP and the like!

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Are there already phones with this capability that I simply don't know of? Have your say.

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

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