It’s just over two weeks until New Zealand goes to the polls, and issues of government dominated technology news headlines this week.
National got a big tick on Tuesday with Paul Thorley, ANZ CEO for IT testing firm Capgemini, saying it was the government’s positive approach to business that convinced the company to re-establish a New Zealand operation. The move will create up to 100 jobs over the next two years, the majority of which will go to kiwis, Thorley says, depending on market demands. It also won’t hurt our growing tech start up industry, which has been enjoying no small amount of success of late.
As this endorsement came through, though, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) also revealed figures suggesting the government is not getting such a hot deal on its mobile phone charges. The figures show that the government maintains 77,000 mobile phone accounts at $64.23 per month, or a total cost of $59.4 million. By corporate standards that’s not huge, but the DIA also provides usage figures which suggest taxpayers are grossly overpaying compared with standard consumer rates. The good news is the figures have been released is as part of a push to negotiate a sharper deal, so there's every chance the telcos will shave their charges a little in order to stay on board with this valuable client.
Finally on the political front, Labour announced its education policy this week, and it rests firmly on investment in technology. The party says if it wins the election it will spend $75 million over four years on providing laptops for year 7-13 students at low-decile schools. It’s a pricey gamble, but Labour says it is prepared to cut scholarships allowing promising low-decile students to attend private schools in order to pay for the move. Education spokeswoman Sue Moroney says the party would rather resource the low-decile schools well than send a few students to better-equipped institutions.
In other news, the long-awaited iPhone 4S arrived in New Zealand this week. Telecom revealed on Tuesday that it would be selling the device alongside competitor Vodafone, and although the price breaks each is offering for the device are about even, their plans differ in what they offer to users.
While the provider decision has gotten tougher, Apple did go some way to extinguishing concerns about the device itself, releasing a fix to iOS 5 that combats the device’s battery issues, and issuing a statement quashing rumours the 4S’ flagship feature, Siri, would be made available on older iPhones.
Speaking of Apple, the company achieved something of a victory this week as Adobe announced that it would stop developing its Flash media player for mobile devices. Apple has long denied Adobe access to its closed operating system, making the ability to run Flash a key selling point for manufacturers utilising Google’s Android platform, particularly on tablets. The iPad, it seems, continues to hold all the cards.
Lastly, it’s just over six weeks to Christmas and the gaming industry is dropping big titles left, right and centre. Battlefield 3 and Uncharted 3 have both recorded massive sales figures, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is sure to do the same. We’ve had two DLC drops for Batman: Arkham City (one for Robin and one for his grown-up counterpart, Nightwing), and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released yesterday. We’ll have reviews of all of these coming out in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!