Yahoo!Xtra and the launch of msn.co.nz on 1 March 2007. The background, briefly, is that both of these new portals take over from previous market leader site "XtraMSN". Essentially what has happened in the NZ market is that Xtra (New Zealand's leading ISP and a subsidiary of the national telecoms provider, Telecom) has parted ways with MSN and hopped into bed with Yahoo. Literally, given the clever promotional image you see to your left (which I received by email).In New Zealand this week, two new Web portals were announced:
While the news itself of the two new portals is only of interest to kiwis, it does illustrate very nicely the growing trend of big Internet companies partnering with local media companies and/or telecoms providers. Indeed the best example of this may've come from Australia at the start of 2006, when Yahoo teamed up with local media powerhouse the Seven Network, to form a joint company called Yahoo7. I said at the time that it may be the start of a trend - Internet-bigmedia marriages, especially as rich media ramps up on the Web (online video, interactivity, etc).
The new msn.co.nz is backed by Microsoft New Zealand, ACP Media and ninemsn (the latter two owned by PBL Media). It features Hotmail, MSN Messenger, Live Search, and portal news. The new service replaces the now defunct XtraMSN. I asked Microsoft NZ Director of Innovation Brett Roberts for some comment on the news and in particular of this trend of big Internet companies partnering with media and telecoms companies. He firstly told me that the decision by Xtra and MSN to part ways was "mutual and amicable". On the overall trend, Brett replied:
"I agree that the current NZ situation is a great example of what is happening elsewhere and this sort of partnership model definitely makes sense in smaller geographies where it’s much more difficult for a single organisation to provide a “soup to nuts” online experience."
Brett said that companies in smaller geographies "find it easier to utilise partnerships rather than doing it all themselves."
But in fact we're seeing this trend also in big countries like China, albeit for different reasons. We saw Google recently partner with China's main mobile provider, China Mobile. That's because localization is generally easier when you partner with a local company, especially in countries (like China) that are quite different to the 'western' market. But even though NZ is very similar to the US market (in terms of language, customs, etc), it is obviously still an advantage to partner with the local media or telecoms companies - who know the territory and have local content. A trend to watch in other countries in 2007...