The state of Oz technology

Published: Thursday, January 31st 2008

Well rarely does an entire country entice me to start ranting (and at this point I'll point out I am in fact Australian) but by crikey Australian technology hasn't really moved in the last 5 years.

Now I appreciate this is a sweeping statement and I'll point out that the technology I'm talking about primarily is media based - mobile / web / internet. I have also had the benefit of living in London for the better part of 10 years so I've been at the hub of what is going on.

What I don't understand is why is it that for a nation that was at the forefront of new media ten years ago are we now in a position where nothing has shifted for the last 5. SMS is still massively underutilised and the idea of an SMS shortcode in Australia is a joke - 8 digits is only 2 shorter than a mobile number so is hardly short! Indeed everything to do with mobile is still more expensive, slower and less polished than we are used to in Europe. I went to Vodafone when I got here and asked for a pay as you go sim card for my phone that had pay as you go data on it... I was met with blank stares - Telstra and Optus were both the same.

General Internet access is similarly expensive and slow compared to what we are used to in Europe. Given a relatively modern telecommunications infrastructure, why telcos are flogging the ADSL route instead of fibre / cable begs the question of why so many roads were dug up in the capital cities to facilitate this in the late 80s and early 90s.

What is also interesting is the lack of FOSS out here. Linux is relatively popular but no where like it is in Europe. Indeed corporate America has it's laser telescopic sight firmly trained on the Australian market and even getting Linux hosting is no where as simple as getting a site hosted on a windows server. Linux certification and knowledge is still seen as a specialist skill.

Overall I'm disappointed that Australia hasn't maintained it's lead in Internet technologies. In part people like me are to blame for starting our careers here and then being drawn to the brighter lights of the UK and the US where visas are easily come by, pay levels are higher and the ability to work on cutting edge technologies are plentiful.

Perhaps we are on the verge of a change in Australia and I hope that some of the ground lost can be regained over the next five years.

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"The state of Oz technology"
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Thursday, January 31st 2008
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