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Is Australia’s slow response to new tech and strategies impacting digital businesses?

"Apple Watch" (CC BY 2.0) by  raneko

"Apple Watch" (CC BY 2.0) by raneko

Tech start-ups, by definition, are tied to the latest developments in software and technology. Usually, these companies are on the cutting edge of the market, trying to position themselves ahead of the competition by embracing the latest technology.

This technology may allow an up-and-coming business to develop the latest chart-topping app, or create the newest gadget or smartphone that becomes a must have.

However, this reliance on the latest technology could also be a hindrance, as if this technology is rejected, or otherwise restricted, then the lifeblood of the business is put under a huge amount of strain.

Another issue is also the potential cost of new tech, such as the issue surrounding wearable technologies, such as smartwatches, in Australia. Smartwatches are far more expensive than the average Australian consumer is willing to pay, meaning they haven’t sold as well as anticipated.

This means that there’s a vast untapped resource of Australian app developers who could potentially develop the ‘killer apps’ needed for the platform but they will be unwilling to do so as the financial return is far from guaranteed.

Developing digital apps always comes with a huge amount of risk. The monetization of apps comes through app sales via digital marketplaces such as Apple’s App Store, or Google’s Play Store, or possibly through embedding adverts into the app itself.

However, both of these methods rely on users embracing and interacting with the app in order to provide a financial return to the developer. This is the issue surrounding wearable tech. Whilst it is a rich, untapped platform, people are unwilling to develop the ground-breaking apps needed to justify the high price point. On the other hand, developers will be unwilling to produce for the platform, because it isn’t yet popular enough, creating a double-edged sword for the wearable technology and digital industries.

Wearable tech isn’t the only sector that’s been slow to take off in Australia

There are various other digitally powered industries that are a few paces behind the global market.

Historically speaking, Australia has had lacklustre internet speeds (and prices) when compared to more connected developed nations, such as the US, the UK, and many of the countries in western Europe.

This can have a negative impact on an economy and digital industries, especially as more and more services are now being hosted in the cloud. This is the way that the digital industry is going, and it is showing no signs of changing in the future. 

An interesting example of this can be seen within the online gaming niche. Traditionally, sports betting had to occur in bricks and mortar stores. However, this has now shifted, almost in near entirety, to various online platforms. A great example of this business trend can be seen in 32Red Australia, or Betway sites.

Online gaming companies are traditionally some of the first to sweep in and embrace new technologies. They often have bespoke statistic analysing software, which deliver accurate information. Certain sites embraced streaming services very quickly. Almost all services made the jump to HTTPS for added security due to the sensitive nature of the service they offer and the vast amount of money at stake, as well as offering native mobile apps across Android and iOS.

Despite igaming having all of this going for it, and remaining at the forefront of innovation, red tape and attitudes are hindering the progress electronic bookmakers can make. At present, in-play ‘real time’ betting is illegal throughout Australia, despite being the norm throughout much of Europe, and being a service the UK version of 32Red offers as standard. Again, this is an example of the technology and innovation being there, and being accepted elsewhere, but with progress stalling once it hits Australian shores.

But, tech giants also seem to be penalising Aussies. Apple recently hiked up their prices for Australian iOS users, and Netflix seem to be taking steps to block Australian users from accessing geo-locked content. Presumably, Netflix will argue that they do not see a big enough return to give Australian customers access to some of the blockbusters for whom they negotiate broadcasting rights, whereas customers will argue they see no point in paying for the service if they can’t access the biggest and best releases – a similar predicament to that which is currently facing the smartwatch.

It’s true that Australia isn’t a country you would associate with the latest, ground-breaking technology. That accolade belongs to the US. But, still, it does seem that Australia falls behind when compared to other digital nations, whether it be in the success of new technology, internet speed, or the ability for digital companies to thrive.