Apr 062017
 

This morning I’m talking with Steve Austin on ABC Brisbane about the future of retail as the city’s biggest shopping mall opens.

What does such a huge complex mean to the local economy and is it sustainable as the retail industry evolves?

Having had a massive upgrade, we can be sure Westfield Chermside will have plenty of technology to help customers spend money and we covered some of the ways modern retails have to understand consumer behaviour and predict what individuals will spend.

Prior to the segment (which starts around the 60 minute mark), Steve took calls from listeners about how retail has changed in Brisbane over the past fifty years.  The demise of fondly remembered department stores is a reminder of how the sector changed as consumer behaviour changed over the last half of the Twentieth Century.

 

Apr 032017
 

On the back of last week’s discussion about Amazon’s Australian expansion, I spoke to Sydney community radio station 2SER-FM this morning about the challenges facing suburban shopping strips.

Like the rest of the world, Australia’s suburban and small town retail strips have been doing it hard for a generation. While technology has a lot to do with this, it’s not online commerce that’s the killer.

The decline, recovery and shift of the suburban retail strip really started in the 1960s as people moved to the suburbs and started shopping at supermarkets – the technology driving that shift was affordable motor cars and refrigerators.

Around the developed world, the removal of tram (or streetcar) systems during the 1950s and 60s also hurt the inner city shops as local foot traffic declined. In Sydney it’s striking that fifty years after the removal of the tram system those suburbs that developed around them are still easily recognisable.

Shifting back to the city

In the 1980s another shift happened. Suddenly in the inner city became fashionable again for affluent and young residents and a new generation of shopkeepers sprung up attracted by relatively cheap rents.

The shift we’re now discussing is that generation of the 1980s and 90s has been dispersed as rents become increased or shops are demolished for apartment blocks that cater for the populations moving back into the inner cities now suburbia isn’t so fashionable.

Like all shifts this has consequences – just as the corner grocery store and local butcher was forced out of business by supermarkets in the 1960s and 70s, today the indy fashion store or old fashioned immigrant run cafe is being displaced by high priced gelato shops and restaurants catering for whatever the current food fad is.

The push against consumerism

With increasing rents, tenants increasingly become upmarket brands although the upper end of the market though is not what it was as the middle classes – particularly in cities like Sydney, San Francisco, Singapore and London – find soaring property prices make it harder to indulge in luxury items.

So high rents are driving shopkeepers out of business and in Australia at least, the perverse incentives in taxation laws and investment regulations means that landlords have a positive disincentive to drop their asking prices, which means vacancies increase.

Renew Newcastle successfully skirted landlords’ reluctance by ‘licensing’ space rather than leasing it from landlords. This allowed land banking property developers and valuation conscious commercial owners to let out space without formal leases that created legal or financial issues.

Regional challenges

It will be interesting to see how Newcastle will perform as that land banked buildings are being developed into apartments and, the developers hope, high rent shops.

For other regional areas the news isn’t as great with technology in everything from mining to agriculture automating more jobs out of existence. Much of the decline in country towns and regions during the Twentieth Century was due to the mechanisation of farming.

Pervasive broadband promises some hope for regional communities but at present both jobs and wealth are being increasingly concentrated into major population centres. This however may be a transition effect exacerbated by governments propping up financial sectors after the 2008 economic crisis.

It’s interesting too that the financial sector now is undergoing an automation revolution not dissimilar to that of the twentieth century agriculture industries, something that’s bad news for cities and governments staking their future on those sectors.

Technology driving change

A lesson from the last hundred years is how technology changes our communities, the arrival of refrigeration and the motor car allowed suburbs and supermarkets to develop. While tractors and trucks radically changed the structure of rural communities.

With the rise of new technologies in everything from agriculture to transport and manufacturing, we’ll see similar changes to our societies and businesses in coming years.

The changes faced by today’s retail business are part of an evolving economy, just as the horse and tram dependent city of hundred years ago looked very different from car dependent suburbias of the late 20th Century, tomorrow’s cities will look very different from today’s.

Mar 182017
 
How are magazines and newspapers surviving in a digital world?

Could schools help combat the scourge of ‘fake news’? The OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, believes so.

Schleicher runs the organisation’s PISA international comparison of educational standards that will introduce tests in 2018 on global competency alongside the existing measures of literacy and numeracy.

The questions of what fake news is and who it affects are relevant to the discussion of dealing with propaganda, slanted reporting and the internet’s echo chambers.

I’ll be discussing this shortly on BBC5’s Up All Night. It should be an interesting discussion.

Feb 152017
 
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

If you missed the show, you can listen through the ABC Nightlife website. Sadly we didn’t get to half the topics but our callers, as well as the NBN PR guy, were fabulous.

Paul Wallbank joins Phillip Clark on ABC Nightlife across Australia from 10pm Australian Eastern time on Thursday, February 16 to discuss how technology affects your business and life.

Last week the NBN announced a third of the country was now covered by their services and the company’s CEO, Bill Morrow, said Australians really don’t want super fast internet. A few weeks before, Telstra announced a new service that will deliver gigabit broadband over their mobile network. We can expect their competitors to offer similar products soon.
At the same time we’re seeing a blast from the past as Nokia are rumoured to be soon releasing an updated version of their classic 3310 phone – are we going to see the ‘tradie phone’ making a comeback?
While the old phone is nice, many people need fast broadband so how is the NBN going and, if you can’t get it, what can you do? Some of the questions
  • So how is the NBN going?
  • Wasn’t the government’s revised plan going to mean the whole thing is going to be cheaper and faster than the original project?
  • Who can get it?
  • Is it as good as promised?
  • So what alternatives to the NBN are there?
  • Doing the sums on those mobile plans, using them can be a pretty expensive business?
  • It seems we’re going backwards. How does Australian broadband compare globally?
  • How is this affecting regional communities and businesses?

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

Jul 202016
 
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

This Thursday night join Tony Delroy and myself on ABC Nightlife to discuss Pokemon Go, how tech is changing the workforce and the future of Australia’s technology industry following the Federal election.

It’s taken a while but we finally have a video game that gets people off the couch and onto the streets. For the last two weeks we’ve been hearing stories of how hundreds of people are dodging cars, invading police stations and stampeding across parks as they try to catch virtual reality animals in the Pokemon Go game.

What is Pokemon Go and is this the future of augmented reality are two of the questions Tony and I will be discussing. We’re also looking at what the Federal election means for the government’s much lauded Innovation Statement along with the Moonhack record of the greatest number of kids programming at one time.

Some of the questions we cover include;

  • What is Pokemon Go?
  • Isn’t Pokemon somewhat old school?
  • Why did it take off?
  • So we’ve heard a bit about augmented reality. Is this what it’s really about?
  • Beyond games, are there any useful purposes for AR?
  • Are we all going to have strange headsets strapped to our heads?
  • Can we expected Australia to provide many of these AR applications?
  • What sort of support is the government giving these developers?
  • Apart from what was already announced what did the Federal election mean to the Aussie tech sector?
  • After all the noise late last year, tech and innovation wasn’t really much of an issue during the election?
  • Does all this talk of tech really matter to the average Australian worker?

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

May 252016
 
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

While Australia talks about innovation, some of our most exciting tech companies are moving to Silicon Valley. For the May 2016 ABC Nightlife we asked why are they moving and what can we do to encourage them to stay down under?

Along with discussing why Australian startups are moving to the United States we also looked at some of the announcements out of the recent Google I/O conference. If you missed the show it’s available for download from the ABC website.

If you’re in Sydney, we’re also debating whether innovation really exists in Australia in a Cloud Crowd debate on June 9. Tickets are free.

Some of the questions Tony and I looked at included;

  • Who is making the move over the US?
  • What reasons do they have for going over?
  • Why aren’t they going to Europe, the UK or SE Asia?
  • Is Australia having a brain drain?
  • It seems the much vaunted Ideas Boom has been lost in the election, is it over?
  • One of the things Google announced at Google I/O was their new Google Home device which listens to your spoken commands to control the house. Doesn’t Amazon already have one of these?
  • Another thing Google announced was they are looking at putting intelligence into every device. How far away is that?

Cloudcrowd innovation debate

On June 9 in Sydney we’ll be debating whether innovation is a myth in Australia, tickets are free and you can sign up through Eventbrite.

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

Apr 122016
 
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

Is the smart home worth the trouble? We live in an age of connected smoke alarms, kettles and even egg trays. For this month’s ABC Nightlife we’ll ask if these devices add to our lives or just make things more complex.

Earlier this month Google announced it would down their Evolv home automation platform leaving hundreds of users stuck with useless devices. So what happens to smart gadgets when they are disconnected from the Internet? We’ll also look at the new folding phone and just what a dire state the Australian telecoms industry is in.

Some of the questions we’ll cover include;

  • What was Google’s Evolv system?
  • Disabling the devices is a bit dramatic, why have they done that?
  • Do customers have any recourse?
  • Is this a risk with all connected devices?
  • What about connected cars, could they be turned off?
  • My computer needs updating, what about these devices?
  • What happens when the internet is disconnected, will my internet fridge work?
  • Samsung showed off a new folding phone last week. What exactly is it?
  • When will we see it on the market?
  • The Annual CommsDay conference was held last week in Sydney. Is there any good news for Aussie consumers?
  • Is the National Broadband Network looking any better?
  • How is the global telecommunications industry looking, can we expect anything exciting?

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.