Netflix will charge $8.99 a month for its standard service when it launches across Australia on Tuesday, undercutting rivals Presto and Stan by $1. Neflix’s move to undercut its Australian rivals comes as competition reaches fever pitch in Australia’s streaming market, with a slew of services vying to secure viewers. The company officially announced its Australian pricing structure on Monday morning after details were leaked on Reddit and Imgur on Sunday night. Netflix will offer its single-stream standard definition plan for $8.99 a month, a dollar cheaper than rival Foxtel and Seven Network’s Presto and Fairfax and Nine Entertainment’s Stan, which both offer their entry-level plans at $9.99 a month. The fee will allow users to stream all Netflix content on one device. The three-tier pricing structure also allows users to choose to stream content on two devices for $11.99, or on four devices in ultra-high definition for a $14.99 "family" plan. Meanwhile, Telstra today announced it will offer its T-Box customers a free six-month subscription to Presto. The service will be available unmetered through Telstra’s fixed home broadband, meaning users can watch shows without it affecting their monthly data allowance. Presto’s offering is headlined by US comedy Modern Family, alongside popular TV shows Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, The Newsroom and Girls. Netflix is meanwhile pushing House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and Stan has Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul as its meal ticket. All three services are also offering 30-day free trials to new members. Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi told SmartCompany it will be the battle for content – not pricing – that will make the difference in the streaming wars. “It will be about getting new content and killer programs that entice people to first run with the service and then stay with it,” says Fadaghi. “The biggest challenge will be churn. It will be easy to get trial members and easy to have one [or] two hook shows,” he says, believing users will mix and match content to suit their interests from different providers. “Users might get Better Call Saul on Stan, use Netflix for House of Cards, and have a Foxtel subscription for subscription for sport.” “We think it will be a fragmented marketplace and it will remain that way,” he says. Fadaghi believes Netflix’s pricing will have the biggest impact on Foxtel’s multi-pack premium offerings. “It’s very likely people will look at $25 a month for content [with Foxtel] and put that side by side with $15 with Netflix,” he says. “Foxtel’s premium pricing will face the biggest threat, given consumers now have more choice,” he adds. SmartCompany contacted Netflix and Presto but did not receive a response prior to publication. This story originally appeared on SmartCompany.
Tablet sales have dropped by almost a third in the last six months, as the Australian love affair with the gadgets reaches a slowdown. A study released today by technology analyst firm Telsyte, shows there were 1.8 million tablets sold in Australia in the first half of 2014, a 28% decline from the previous six months. In 2013, the Australian tablet market grew by a remarkable 147%, with 1.14 million units sold in the first quarter of the year. Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi told SmartCompany Australians were early adopters of the tablet trend, but the market had reached a natural slow point. “There is a natural slow down when it reaches mainstream levels,” he says. Fadaghi says this is due to a combination of factors, including the fact nearly half of all Australians now owned a tablet. He says longer upgrade cycles also mean products are becoming less readily obsolete, meaning people were holding onto their tablets for longer. Meanwhile, for the first time in Australia, Android tablets have overtaken Apple for market share. More Android units were sold in the first half of 2014 than Apple tablets, with Android devices winning a 47% of the market, compared to Apple’s 46%. Fadaghi says Android devices have cornered the market by offering cheaper tablets, which many Australians are buying as a second tablet for their children or as a smaller back-up device. “They have started to be seen as toys or as low cost gadgets,” he says. However, Fadaghi believes Apple will reclaim their top spot by the end of the calendar year, with the release of their new operating system and its highly anticipated new iPhone. “The halo effect of the iPhone 6 will give Apple a boost. I anticipate they will release an update of the iPad too,” he says. This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.
Tablet-sized phones, or ‘phablets’, and wearable technology such as smartwatches are the big growth areas to watch as Australia’s attraction to smartphones continues to strengthen, according to research released yesterday. While recent studies have illustrated smartphone trends in the US, the latest research from local analyst firm Telsyte shows there were 16 million smartphone users in Australia at the end of June 2014, an increase of 1.1 million over the previous six months. Telsyte’s Smartphone Market Study 2014-2018, estimates 5.6 million new smartphones will be sold in Australia during the second half of 2014 and points to strong growth in the area of phablets, smartwatches and fitness bands. Phablets – or smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 to 6.9 inches – are still a niche market according to Telsyte, despite more manufacturers releasing larger-screen devices that blur the line between a smartphone and tablet. But Telsyte believes the phablet will be boosted by the entrance of Apple later this year, when the tech giant is expected to launch a 5.5 inch iPhone 6. “Some 40% of survey respondents that intend to purchase an iPhone 6 indicated they would only consider it if it has a larger screen,” said Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi. The research also found while smartwatch adoption is still embryonic in Australia, the product category might be accelerated with the arrival of an Apple “iWatch” in 2014. Samsung is the current market leader. Smart fitness bands are currently more popular than smartwatches, according to the study, due to their lower price points and popularity as a gift. Fitbit is the market leader. Telsyte research also shows that Android smartphones have now overtaken iPhones as the main devices purchased on contract from carriers, following strong carrier promotions and the reduction in iPhone subsidies. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
PayPal Australia today announced the next generation of PayPal Here, an app and Bluetooth device allowing Australians to easily accept credit card payments from their smartphone. The secure, chip and PIN credit card reader has been specifically designed for Australia, where Chip and PIN authentication is widely adopted and will soon be mandated across ATMs, cards and payments terminals. An evolution of the first PayPal Here, launched in March 2012, the new device turns a smartphone into a complete payments solution. It also enables businesses to generate and distribute invoices and has the ability to log cash payments. The move by PayPal pre-empts rumours of Square mobile payments launching in Australia. Square makes a free credit card reader, which business owners can attach to iPhones, iPads and Android devices, allowing them to accept credit card payments. It has proven very popular amongst US merchants. Speculation about a local launch was fuelled earlier this year when Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Square’s offices in San Francisco and tweeted a photo of himself with Mr Dorsey, alongside a caption that said he had discussed “disruptive innovation soon to come to Aus”. Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi told StartupSmart the success or failure of any of these devices in the market will come down to fees and charges. Fadaghi noted that the reasons for Square’s success in the US did not necessarily translate to the Australian market, as we had different banking requirements and regulations. While PayPal had a large user-base in Australia, their big competitors are the major banks and financial institutions. “What PayPal does have though is a large user-base and a trusted brand,” Fadaghi says. Fadaghi says the announcement by PayPal is a continuation of where things are headed in the market, and we can expect increasing innovation in the payment solutions space. There are no monthly subscription fees to use PayPal Here, just a one-off charge of AUD$139 for the card reader and then a small fee per transaction using the card reader. Costs are 1.95% for credit card payments (via card reader), 2.4% plus 30 cents for invoicing and 2.9% plus 30 cents for credit cards keyed in to the app (without use of card reader). Registrations for PayPal Here product are open from today. The devices scheduled to ship within the first half of the year.
It’s seven years today since the launch of Apple’s first iPhone and since then it’s brought about new sectors of business, increased connectivity around the globe and forced its competitors to innovate. On this day seven years ago (January 9 in the United States), Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in a keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. It wasn’t the first smartphone, it didn’t have the best hardware, but its software and usability quickly made it the dominant phone on the market and Apple challenged the positions of other phone manufacturers and telecommunications companies. With the introduction of the iPhone, opportunities for businesses emerged which had never before been realised. Social media became pervasive, app businesses emerged and new payment technologies were developed. When the iPhone launched on the market in November 2007, thousands of people queued around the world to secure their first iPhone. Many of these people are still devout Apple users today. Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi told SmartCompany in the past seven years consumers have adopted smartphone technology at a rapid rate. “This has created both opportunities and challenges for businesses. On the app side of smartphones, it’s provided a new platform for businesses to sell and interact with customers which is more engaged and it’s also facilitated micro-transactions,” he says. “But it’s also created additional requirements for businesses to have mobile websites and to actually develop these apps.” Technology expert Paul Wallbank told SmartCompany the iPhone also challenged the business models of telecommunications companies. “The iPhone broke down the telco model of trying to lock us into their proprietary applications… Apple went behind the backs of the telcos and they’ve never really forgiven it for it,” he says. “The iPhone has been a huge thing for business. Apple created an app store and showed businesses they can help drive sales and productivity. It’s helped businesses both as technology consumers and by allowing them to create their own apps to capture further business opportunities.” Thanks to the rise of the smartphone, driven largely by the success of the iPhone, businesses such as Appster, Smart50 winner Outware Mobile and AppsPro have come to exist. Businesses have also been forced to up their customer engagement via social media, new banking methods have been developed to allow people to transfer money and monitor their accounts on the go, and increasingly businesses are developing payment technologies which allow people to pay for things like their morning coffee while in transit. But Wallbank says the best innovation has been the most simple – making business mobile. “It’s liberated people from the office and automated a lot of field workers systems. At the time the iPhone was released I was running an IT support business and I was struggling to find something which would let my field technicians do their paperwork on the road,” he says. “Smartphones have changed the way many industries can work with their mobile workers. Before the iPhone, the mobile revolution was stunted by the telcos and companies like Blackberry and Nokia, but Apple opened up the platform.” Both Fadaghi and Wallbank agree in the next five years smartphones will become integrated with other smart devices. “What we’ll see is an extension of the smartphone to a number of connected devices and smart accessories. Their functionality will be extended through wearable devices, docking solutions and software which lets it integrate with other devices,” Fadaghi says. “When it reaches maximum penetration innovation will be around its integration with other devices… There is a pent up demand for Google Glass and these kinds of products at certain price points.” Fadaghi says the success of wearable devices will depend on their price. “Longer term, one thing which will occur is the computing part of the technology will get smaller and smaller. You’ll have the full functionality of a smartphone in wearable devices, SD card-sized computers and smart computing units will be applied in different ways like wearables and sensor type devices.” Wallbank says the current International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has shown there will be more integration between smartphones and in-car navigation and entertainment systems, fitness equipment and medical devices. “Smartphones and tablets are becoming the centre of our digital lives. They’ll be the remote control for everything from home security systems to fitness watches,” he says. “The trend prior to smartphones was phones getting smaller. I think the form factor of the phones will evolve as we use them. It could go back to tiny phones if we use them to engage with things like Google Glass and smart TVs predominantly.” Wallbank says just as the motorcar changed the twentieth century, “the smartphone will change the twenty-first”.
Facebook has highlighted opportunities for app developers after indicating its next major app categories will be movies, books and fitness, having conquered categories such as gaming.
App developers should be able to quickly get to grips with the newly released iPad mini, and will also be presented with several opportunities, including the creation of location-based apps, according to an industry expert.
Less than a third of Australian businesses have created a mobile-optimised website, with even fewer creating new apps, a new report reveals.
Facebook’s decision to test a new feature that would allow users to pay a fee to promote their posts has received a mixed response, with one analyst attacking the idea as “the worst one yet” hatched by the social media giant.
A fund run by the French government has invested 10 million euros in Paris-based online network Viadeo, taking an undisclosed stake in the company, in a bid to nurture homegrown technology start-ups.
Tech start-up Yelp saw its shares surge as much as 60% on its public listing debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange, valuing it at $US1.3 billion, despite the business failing to turn a profit to date.
Small businesses need to be aware of the hidden costs associated with equipping employees with mobile devices, analysts warn, as employers attempt to make their staff more productive.
An iPad-based educational tool for autistic children could prompt start-ups to tap into the tablet market in a similar vein an expert says, particularly as parents become increasingly time-poor.
Retail giant Amazon has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday night in the US (Thursday AEST) where many analysts believe it will debut its long-awaited tablet device, which many believe could pose the first biggest threat to Apple’s iPad.
Peruse images of the founders of the world’s leading tech start-ups and you’ll probably notice a few common features – youth, casual attire and, tellingly, male.
A tech expert says app developers should be wary about development apps based on government-owned information after university students who offered to build a free bus service app for the ACT government were snubbed when the government put the project up for tender, allocating $12.5 million for project.
Social networking giant Facebook has teamed up with Skype to offer free video calls in a move that could potentially help start-ups to communicate with customers according to a market research analyst.
Social gaming giant Zynga says it intends to raise up to $US1 billion after filing for a float on the New York Stock Exchange, fuelling speculation of a second dotcom boom.
Start-ups have been urged to have a backup plan to protect themselves from competitors and to stick to their niche market “like glue”, following the sale of embattled social networking site MySpace.
The Commonwealth Bank is targeting small businesses for its new transactions service, that allows merchants to accept payments from mobile devices, but an industry expert says start-ups should do their homework before signing up for the service.