April 21, 2006
It was pleasing to read today that Google may soon rollout a local presence in Australia targeted in direct competition to Sensis. With various companies recently announcing local search services, from the uninspiring customised Google search interface to be provided to customers of listed wireless network operator Unwired, to the much more exciting promise of delivering Google local downunder, things are certainly brewing.
The Australian newspaper reports that Google is serious about moving into the Australian market and is in negotiations with an as yet unnamed local partner to provide localised search services (21/04/06). Hopefully the chosen partner will be able to offer features that are clearly differentiated from the already familiar offerings of Sensis and Ninemsn. Interestingly, News Limited (publishers of "The Australian") also recently released their own offering truelocal.com.au, without any significant fanfare, into what is now already an over-crowded Australian business services search market.
Personally, I can't yet find any compelling reason to use more than one of these services. As much as I hate to say it, unless something mobile comes my way that is generally available and cheap to access, I will prefer to use Sensis' White or Yellow pages from the comfort of my home in the rare event that I need to look up a business phone number. It gives me exactly the same information as any other offering currently on the market plus the added benefit that I actually remember the URLs.
Ninemsn and Truelocal.com.au may all be sources of localised data but they're certainly not yet mobile and nor is their content compelling. If Google is planning to fill these gaps and bring the dimensions of on-demand mobile search with more compelling content than business information, they'll be a clear winner. With Sensis still off in la la land delivering their location based services only to a minimal audience of Telstra network subscribers, Google could very well snatch market share just as a plethora of more sophisticated Wifi and GPS enabled devices are due to be released into the Australian market.
Good luck Google!
April 8, 2006
Today the newspaper, “The Australian Financial Review”, published an article on the growing popularity of both portable and in-vehicle navigation systems in Australia. Heavily quoting various sources at Telstra’s Sensis division (who else could they quote?), the article predicts sales of 150,000 portable units and 60,000 in-car systems during 2006.
Sensis is reportedly seeing revenue increase by 20% or more year-on-year. Unsurprisingly, a representative of Australian retail electronics firm Dick Smith indicates that the increasing popularity is attributable to word of mouth. There is no doubt that location based services are a viral technology. Sensis’ In-Car navigation product manager, Peter Girigs, indicated that the Australian market is growing at about 200% annually. That’s great news for the two providers of street level mapping data in Australia.
Funnily enough, the authors do allude to the fact that Telstra / Sensis has what is bordering on a virtual monopoly in the provision of electronic mapping data. They even went as far to say that they had contacted Australian competition watch-dog the ACCC but word back from their spokesperson was that they had not received any complaints about Sensis and there was no action being taken with respect to reviewing its market position.
Incidentally, I have seen the increasing market popularity represented first hand at the numerous local electronics stores in my area. Where 18 months ago there would have been one or two Navman / Mio products on the shelves, there are now close to five or six different portable navigation system manufacturers.
All of them have Sensis data installed.