Digital blunders

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN
Last updated 09:32 04/10/2012

There have been a couple of digital dramas during the past couple of weeks that show just how hard it is to get things 100 per cent right 100 per cent of the time.

It wasn't a great start for the latest contender to challenge Trade Me's domination of the online auction market, with Wheedle going offline on day two of its existence. The site launched on Monday but after concerns were raised and a Kiwi blogger tweeted instructions on how to change the reserve prices on other people's auctions the site was taken down on Tuesday for a spot of tweaking.

While I still have my doubts that anyone will really be able to make a dent in Trade Me's user numbers, I had expected Wheedle to have a more auspicious start, given the fact it is the baby of Mainfreight co-founder Neil Graham - a man with deep pockets and a good chunk of business nous.

At the time of writing, a message on the Wheedle website said "Due to unforeseen technical problems we have postponed further activity on the website . . . We'll be back soon". I say good on the Wheedle-ites for being honest about the problems and dealing with them in such an honest way, but I still can't see how the site is going to take on Trade Me.

Sure, the fees are cheaper, but the fees on all the other auction sites that have come and gone over the years have also been cheaper and that hasn't done them any good. The simple fact is that Trade Me got there first, built up the customer base and makes all the sales and that's why it will continue to attract the bulk of the market.

Even eBay hasn't been able to give Trade Me a proper run for its money here in New Zealand.

And as of today, yet another new auction site is expected to take on the battle for online supremacy, with the launch of List Sell Trade, with its monthly flat-rate $10 fee.

I wish all the newbies the best but - I suspect much like the rest of New Zealand - I will probably register with them, browse their scant listings from time to time, and continue to buy and sell at the old faithful.

The other digital drama was the Apple map thingamabob on the latest iPhone. Again, all credit to Apple for admitting how bad the product is and suggesting the use of a competitor's product but I can't help wondering just how something so bad managed to get past the testing stage.

Is Apple losing its edge? (What's that I hear? Is that the sound of southern Apple fan bois and grrls baying for my blood as they pull on their hipster turtle-necks and rally around their iPhones? Don't worry, I still love my iPod, and my iPad.)

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