Is Australia being left behind in the tech era?

IMG_8664Sometimes you need some distance to gain perspective.

I’m writing today from a small cafe in a remote town in Colorado, a week after attending yet another amazing SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

Once again, SXSW was incredibly informative and inspirational, highlighting cutting edge innovation and thinking from industry leaders and up-and-comers.

But, for me at least, the most noticeable thing at SXSW was what was missing, especially in the enormous Trade Show hall. As usual there were dozens of exhibitors with new technology, plenty of robotics, 3D printing, drones and marketing software.

But this year the Trade Show seemed to be dominated by countries and regions sharing their own tech industry news and start-ups. They were encouraging to 30,000 plus cashed-up, highly educated and entrepreneurial visitors to come and do business with them, to relocate, to support their start-up businesses, to invest.

Besides the many states and regions of the USA on display, there were impressive stands for countries including Ireland, Great Britain, Brasil, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.

Who was missing? Australia. No display, no presence at the world’s biggest technology festival.

In fact the only sign of Australia was the smattering of Aussie accents wandering the city. Many of us made the pilgrimage to Austin to learn more and do business. (In fact, I picked up several business opportunities of my own simply by attending and chatting to people).

But the problem is that most of us are doing it ourselves, with no coordinated industry of government support. It really hit home to me that Australia runs a real risk of being left behind in the modern tech revolution. While we are still arguing the toss over high-speed broadband and seeing little government support of innovation, the rest of the world is taking bold steps to be at the forefront of the new economy.

And here is some perspective on why Australia needs to have a presence at SXSW (and other events…this isn’t just about SXSW) and also fostering similar events at home…..

The impact of SXSW 2014 on the city of Austin’s economy was revealed to be a staggering $315 million.

SXSW Interactive director Hugh Forrest told the Austin Business Journal that the figure is roughly 65% of the impact that a city like New Orleans sees from hosting the Super Bowl. It’s nearly a third of the net impact that the 2012 Olympics had on London.

And Australia was nowhere to be seen.

To me it is symbolic of the lack of importance our country is placing upon innovation.

This weekend I will be meeting up with some Australians who have relocated to Boulder, Colorado to work on their own start-ups. They’re in Boulder because of the exciting start-up community and tech network and positive spirit of innovation.

I’m sure I’ll be inspired by what I see, but depressed when I think of how far behind Australia is falling.

Internet Trends 2014 by Mary Meeker

Every year around this time Mary Meeker, from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, releases her Internet Trends study. I personally saw Mary present this in San Francisco a few years ago and was fascinated by her insights and knowledge. The whole industry stops and listens when Mary Meeker delivers her annual report.

Which brings me to the 2o14 Internet Trends report Meeker has just unveiled. As usual it is packed with great information, plenty of perspective and a few pointers to what is next. It’s long but it is worth the time to read.

[UPDATED Dec 2012] Internet Trends and the re-imagination of everything

“The magnitude of upcoming change will be stunning” – Mary Meeker

Stats guru and analyst Mary Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, has just published her latest report filled with amazingly useful data, the “2012 Internet Trends Year-End Update.”

Some highlights include:

  • 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide, a number that’s still growing eight percent yearly.
  • There are 1.1 billion smartphone subscribers worldwide — but that’s still just 17 percent of the global cellphone market.
  • 29 percent of adults in the U.S. now own either a tablet or an e-reader.
  • Mobile devices now account for 13 percent of worldwide Internet traffic, up from 4 percent in 2010.
  • Mobile app and advertising revenue has grown at an annual rate of 129 percent since 2008, and now tops $19 billion.
  • Mobile traffic app Waze has been adding users faster than all GPS makers combined have sold personal navigation units, and it’s been that way since the beginning of 2012.

Meeker’s spells out how these device and connectivity trends are leading to the complete re-imagination of everything from encyclopedias to money itself. And as slide 58 says….”the magnitude of upcoming change will be stunning – we are still in Spring training”.


If you and your organisation are grappling with how to make the transition in this rapidly evolving digital economy I’d love to talk to you. My team and I specialise in helping businesses move steadily from traditional models to become modern marketers who flourish in this new global digital economy. You can see some of our services or contact me at

What happens when Google closes a service – is this the end of FeedBurner?

Guest post by Rebecca Caroe, Feedblitz

Google’s business model has been to acquire services which they can integrate into their ecosystem and offer free of charge to users like you and me. One of their early acquisitions was an RSS to email service provider called FeedBurner.

It’s a handy tool, allowing bloggers to send out emails with the latest blog post updates automatically after they publish.

But now, Google appears to be slowly killing off FeedBurner’s services. Whether FeedBurner itself will cease to exist is anyones guess, as Google has given us no official word. However the future of the service is definitely becoming a concern in the minds of its users.

Since the service was acquired by Google in 2007, it has become a bit neglected. The most recent examples of this are:

  • On July 26th 2012 the FeedBurner Twitter account and blog were shut down.
  • In addition to this the Japan domain name was lost or abandoned by Google at the end of July.
  • The metrics for all feeds were lost from September 19th when all feeds showed zero subscribers. And this outage lasted until September 24th.
  • And now they are shutting down the API as of the 20th October 2012.
  • And finally (for now) Adsense for feeds will also be shut down in December 2012.

Google has NOT said that they are shutting down FeedBurner, but the way they are slowly but surely killing off FeedBurner services has to set off alarm bells in the minds of users. Technology news website Techcrunch called it “The FeedBurner Deathwatch”.

What does this means for you?

If you use FeedBurner to distribute your blog to your readers, especially if you make money from your blog, then you need to have a contingency plan ready, because if the plug is pulled, you will lose both readers and money.

There are two obvious options open to you:

  1. Distribute your feed natively from your hosted domain
  2. Migrate to an alternative service provider

Dave Weiner (the man who invented RSS) has blogged about how to distribute your feed yourself, but if you are daunted by the techy instructions, don’t worry, there are alternatives.

Many prominent bloggers are already migrating their feeds and the FeedBurner discussion forums are busy with threads about how to cope with this new challenge.

If you are still using FeedBurner, don’t panic because it is still working; the statistics are back online. However, it’s good practice to back up your subscriber list from FeedBurner and start your RSS contingency planning now. Don’t get caught short.


FeedBlitz is a premium alternative to FeedBurner.  Designed for bloggers and businesses who need reliable feed distribution, it comes with more features than FeedBurner, online support and also strong commendations from top bloggers who’ve recently moved their feeds.  Read the migration case studies here and here

Download the step by step guide to migrating your FeedBurner feed and try FeedBlitz free for 30 days!


The smartphone online shopping boom

Remember when everyone had to have a website? Well, the explosive popularity of the smartphone means that more and more consumers are shopping online using a mobile device. In fact, website traffic from smartphones increased 103% in the last year. So now its not just a website you need, its also a mobile-friendly site.

Here are the latest stats and facts from the team at Monetate to help you understand the impact of smartphones for shopping online and the battle for supremacy between iPhone and Android.

Are you taking mobile into account in your online marketing and retail strategies?

The Battle for Smartphone SupremacyMonetate Marketing Infographics

The winners and losers in the digital economy

A few weeks ago I posted that no industry was immune to the rapid pace of change in our modern interconnected society. I strongly believe that some current industries will be turned upside down by the arrival on the National Broadband Network and borderless labour.

Now a new report by IBISworld’s Phil Ruthven, A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050, lists the winners and losers of what it calls “the new utility” – ubiquitous high-speed broadband.

Ruthven says Australia must shift from exporting its natural resources to exporting so-called “developed resources” – health, education, tourism and business services, and identifies seven broad industry sectors that will benefit from this “hyper digital era”.

The main beneficiaries appear to be government and public safety programs such as emergency and disaster response services, followed by online retail and the mining industry.

However, Ruthven also says that of 509 industries in Australia, 15 – nearly all in traditional media, publishing and broadcasting – are likely to disappear unless they can reinvent themselves.

The industries he identifies as facing “extinction” include: book, magazine and newspaper publishing and retailing; radio and television broadcasting; reproduction of recorded media; and film processing.

Its a trend we’ve seen for the last 15 years. If the medium is easily digitalised then the industry is at risk. It started with music, then moved onto books and movie and TV downloads. Its one of the reasons Fairfax is trying to cut costs and job losses are an unfortunate symptom of these changes.

A recent presentation by Mary Meeker which explained the “re-imagination of everything” is a great pointer to what has happened and who will be affected going forward.

The report says that traditional retailing will decline in the coming decades and much wholesale trade may also disappear.

Mr Ruthven says that Australia has been slow to adopt high-speed broadband and benefit from the digital economy, and the major obstacle is scepticism.

“Because I think there’s been so many naysayers out there suggesting we don’t need it, which is it a bit like saying ‘dirt roads were quite adequate 50 years ago, who needs a sealed road and a four-lane highway?'” says Ruthven.

The report also predicts that one in four people will be working from home at least part-time by 2050, something that futurist Mark Pesce elaborated on.

“The idea of employment, as in a job that lasts for more than a few days or a few weeks, is going to be this very weird term by 2050. Our grandkids will go up to us and say, ‘You had a job and you did it for years at a time?'”, says Pesce.

“That much connectivity in the economy creates this enormous capability for fluidity, and so jobs are going to start to become gigs and those are going to start to become tasks, and eventually we’re all just going to be doing a little bit here and a little bit there and it may not be until we get up in the morning and check the smartphone that we’re going to be knowing what we’re going to be doing that day.”

Pesce feels that the employment market of 2050 is “going to look a lot more like eBay then it does like Seek.”


All are expected to be replaced by their online or digital equivalents.


2012 Internet trends and the re-imagination of everything

Want more evidence that no industry is immune from the current pace of change? Then this post is chock full of examples.

Last time I was in San Francisco I attended the Web 2.0 Summit featuring many of the web-tech industry’s biggest names. One of the best presentations was by Mary Meeker, at the time an analyst for Morgan Stanley. Mary is so good at reading the trends and industry directions that she was then poached by leading Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. In short, when Mary speaks the industry listens.

Mary has just published her 2012 Internet Trends Report and it makes for interesting reading.

But what I’d really like to share are the slides from 29-86 which cover the way technology has re-imagined so many industries in recent times. As Mary says, these are still early days, we’re still in Spring training.

The presentation also covers:

  • Global Internet usage
  • Mobile usage
  • Mobile device evolution
  • Mobile monetization transition
  • Platform firehoses
  • The trend of “re-imagination” of almost everything (no industry is immune)
  • The economy
  • US consumer sentiment
  • The tech “bubble”

Read the rest of this entry »

The truth about banner ads [Infographic]

by [me]

Since the down of the commercial internet in the early 1990’s banner ads have been the default form of advertising. Google shook things up massively with their Adwords program but most media sites still rely heavily on banner ads for revenue.

Banner ads have always stuck me as old media imposing their old models on new technology. However, measurement is different as advertisers were encouraged to look at clicks rather than exposure, as they would have done with press display ads. Branding became less important and click-through became the goal.

The question is do banner ads really work? Are they effective? This nice infographic from the team at Prestige Marketing explains who’s clicking, who’s not clicking and why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Its a war for web supremacy and you’re in the crossfire

Google v Facebook: its war

Larry Page & Mark Zuckerberg. (Image originally

Every time you go online you are entering a war zone. It might not feel like it, but there is an almighty battle taking place between two superpowers and you are caught in the crossfire.

Welcome to the war for web supremacy. The super powers, if you haven’t already guessed, are the search behemoth Google and social heavyweight champion Facebook. The prize is you and your data.

Sure, there are other combatants in this war; Twitter, Apple, Bing, LinkedIn…even Yahoo!, but they are merely involved in skirmishes and are open to being co-opted into alliances with the main players. Amazon currently appears to be Switzerland (more about them another time).

The nature of systems like the web is that monopolies emerge. We have a dominant search engine in Google, a dominant online encyclopedia in Wikipedia, a dominant retailer in Amazon, a dominant auction site in eBay, and now we have a dominant social network in Facebook. That’s normal and has been happening in business for centuries.

But what happens when two different monopolies decide to battle for a middle ground? That’s where it gets interesting, and that whats happening now. Facebook and Google share common goals but differing philosophies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yelp launches in Australia

Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman in Sydney

Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman in Sydney

Popular US-based user recommendation website Yelp launched today in Australia. First launched in San Francisco in 2004 by founders Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons, Yelp has grown to 14 countries and more than 61 million monthly unique visitors.

Aussies are now able to create accounts on Yelp to share their opinions about local businesses and services in their neighborhoods. Yelp’s free iPhone and Android mobile applications are available, as is Yelp for Business Owners, the company’s free suite of business owner tools.

Stoppelman was in Sydney today talking to a handful of bloggers about how Yelp was created to replace Yellow Pages, who he considered a dead tree business crying out for reinvention. Initially the Yelp founders didn’t believe user reviews would be key to the site but were surprised when they took off and became the main focus of Yelp and a major point of differentiation. Remember, this was back in the days before Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and even newcomers Oink and Roamz.

For millions of US users, Yelp has become an invaluable search resource to discover what’s nearby and how its rated.

It’ll be interesting to see how Yelp does launching in a new market 7 years later with many other location and recommendation contenders on the scene. Stoppelman is confident that the site can get good traction in Australia via their (rather ironic) partnership with Sensis (publisher of Yellow Pages) who provide the initial database of businesses and the sales force for future ad sales. Certainly the Yelp model of engaging community manager in each territory will go a long way to determining the public take-up of the service.

Yelp will be available throughout Australia; however, the company will focus its initial community-growth efforts in Melbourne and Sydney. This city-by-city expansion strategy has proven to be an effective one for the company in other markets.