This week’s launch of Kim Dotcom’s new data storage website Mega has been a massive success. With over one million new users in the first day alone - so much traffic that the site’s servers had trouble handling it - and huge media attention, the launch really captured public imagination.
A lot of the interest in Mega is an extension of the publicity circus around Dotcom, thanks to his larger than life personality, arrest and ongoing battle with the government.
No matter what you think of Kim Dotcom himself, people are drawn to Mega because the new venture is raising interesting questions about the internet and what it means for New Zealand’s future.
The publicity circus aside, Mega is a significant online business launched in New Zealand. It so far proves - as others have - that with the right know-how and a bit of creative marketing our country can be home to high-value, cutting edge businesses.
In this way, Mega is more than just a new venture, it’s a direct demonstration of the opportunity the online space makes available to our businesses.
We know from the last MYOB Business Monitor, our regular survey of over 1000 small to medium enterprises, that local businesses with an online presence were 64% more likely to have experienced revenue growth over the last 12 months.
Yet, as Kim Dotcom has pointed out, our digital infrastructure is not yet ready to support the sort of high-value online businesses we would like to see. The failure of projects like Pacific Fibre and the slow pace of the ultrafast broadband rollout mean we are well behind countries like the US. Thinking about how we can improve our competitive position on these issues is very important.
Mega is also raising important questions about storage and privacy in a world where a bigger part of our lives is spent online. Since Megaupload became a byword for the dangers of storing data online, the idea of a new, improved and secure online storage space is clearly one the market is interested in.
So while there are less colourful ways to have these sort of questions raised – and certainly less embarrassing ones for our Government – there’s no denying that the launch of Mega has given us the opportunity to have a debate about issues that are going to be shaping our economy for some time to come.
Julian Smith (@JulianTSmith) is the general manager for MYOB in New Zealand.