content, comments and the customer

I had a recent twitter conversation with Chris Keal, the technology editor from the

In essence, NBR put out a story about how Season 4 of the Game of thrones being released by HBO was being geo-restricted by being  distributed through even less channels. Whereas last year it was availble in iTunes Australia, this year it wouldn’t be until the local distributor had aired all the episodes.

This artical was originally available free.  Then Chris tweeted that the story had now been moved behind the paywall, ie NBR had restricted access to the content.

@ChrisKeall is that irony or what?

Apparently not according to Chris,

@paulq Nope. Anyone from anywhere can choose to subscribe to NBR Online. HBO is restricting GoT online access by geography

he seems to think that because the NBR is available to all,  there are no paralells here.  Lance Wiggs agreed –

I agree with Chris – it’s about access, not about cost.

I say they’re wrong, cost is just another barrier

So lets look at why i think its ironic

Irony is defined as meaning

dissimulation, feigned ignorance”[1]), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event characterized by an incongruity, or contrast, between what the expectations of a situation are and what is really the case, with a third element, that defines that what is really the case is ironic because of the situation that led to it.


  1. a story about content being less available gets moved from free to paywalled ie less available = incongruity
  2.  the situation that led to this incongruity – a story about content restrictions get restricted.

Sure looks like irony to me.

But more important to me, was the whole argument.  The use of semantics to defend the position of one arm of the media is really enlightening.  Its enlightening because we all do it – deliberately or through cognitive bias.

In this instance its ok to place restrictions on content because it ” is sharper than ad funded”   ( as an aside – what the hell does that mean?)

As a consumer of both content types, i can tell you with absolute surity, all i see is restrictions.  The semantics of the situation and the whys and wherefores and rationalisation don’t mean much anything to me.

Its a great lesson, i’ve caught myself doing just this sort of thing.  You get lost in the technology, old business model or the absolute belief that you’ve got it right or the product is prefect… and you loose sight of the most imporant thing…how the end customer views it.

Asking the right question

Yesterday was a big day here in NZ, the iPhone 4S was released, whats more the stranglehold that Vodafone had on the iPhone has past.

Predictably there was plenty of hype. And then the carriers put out their plan details (see NBR). Lance Wiggs put it bluntly, “Vodafone’s iPhone 4S plans seem to have forgotten data”. The interesting thing is why.



They’ve had a monopoloy on the coolest device this decade, they must know what this does to ARPU …and yet they do this?

Could it be that in their analysis, they’ve uncovered a nasty fact? That they are killing their network with these devices?


Sounds silly but have a look at this mobile data growth chart

Given growth is nearly flat, prices are flat or falling… maybe it just wasn’t economic? Could they actually want to bleed these data hogging customers.

Remember Telecom and 2Degrees both have shinny new networks, i’m guessing they have uddles of capacity…maybe Vodafone doesn’t…after all they still have 2G in patches

Like is said, almost as interesting as the announcement itself