Switched off super… Net addicts swamp China… Franchised high-art?… Smart dialling

Super? I’m switching off

What is it about super that makes people switch off? For months newspapers around the country have written at length about the superannuation changes announced in last year’s federal budget. Who hasn’t heard about the opportunity to make a one-off $1 million contribution into super before June 30?

Well, lot’s of people according to research by Asgard Wealth Solutions, which surveyed 365 people. Only 44% of respondents knew about the changes to superannuation and less, 31%, were able to name a single change.


China boot camp for kids hooked on the net

In China, booming net use is creating addicts. The Internet Addiction Treatment Centre is a government-funded military-style boot camp near Beijing treating the children of China’s nouveau riche addicted to online games, internet pornography, cyber-sex and chat rooms, according to a Reuters report in The Australian Financial Review.

The government is concerned about a growing number of high profile internet related deaths and juvenile crime. It is taking steps to ban new internet cafes and is considering restrictions on violent computer games.

At the end of 2006, China had 137 million internet users — IATC claims there are two million teenage internet addicts. Not all will be able to afford boot camp: the monthly fees are equivalent to nearly a year’s average disposable income in China.


Franchised art galleries? Louvre Museum to franchise in Abu Dhabi amid French protest

The last thing we ever thought would get the franchise treatment is high-brow art. We were wrong. The Louvre is opening its first ever foreign “branch” — in the “art quarters” of the Gulf state, Abu Dhabi, reports Trendhunter.com.

The French are very unhappy. “Our museums are not for sale” cries an online petition signed by 4700 people so far.

There are concerns over the safe transport of valuable objects, and of removal of “French heritage” from the soil. But once again, franchising is enabling something to grow.

The French should take heart from the fact that their culture is expanding, not contracting, and art is becoming accessible to more people.


Dialling smart makes good business


Australian businesses have been slow adopters to the trend of communicating phone numbers to customers by converting the number to a word via a telephone keypad. This seems to be changing.

Companies have been able to buy or lease freecall “phonewords” — like 1300 TAXI — for more than two years, but for many prospective users how to get the powerful marketing tool has been something of a mystery.

Few companies know how to secure a phoneword, or that there are primary and secondary markets in the numbers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority runs an online auction system, open to anyone who registers and pays an $80 fee at www.smartnumbers.com.au. This represents the primary market for phonewords, which ACMA calls “smartnumbers”, a term it has trademarked.

ACMA triggers an auction when it receives a request for a number and sends an email alerting registered bidders of the details. There is a reserve fee set for each number — usually $500 — and bids are sent to ACMA by email. The highest bidder is offered a licence to use the number in perpetuity. Details of auction results are published at www.smartnumbers.com.au

But if you have been outbid in a phoneword auction, you may still have a chance to secure the number if it has not been secured and activated by an end-user. A secondary market of about 15 phoneword traders is flourishing. If a trader owns a number you want, you can negotiate to lease or purchase the “rights to use licence”.

The phoneword market is completely open and there has been no barrier to traders buying up the majority of phonewords as they are released through the ACMA auction system. This means that many numbers have been “warehoused” and businesses seeking the numbers need to negotiate with the traders. This can be an expensive exercise.

One bidder who missed out on securing a phoneword after the bidding topped $2200 was offered the chance to lease the number at $2200 a month.

Provided they can wait, there is a final chance for businesses interested in a number owned by a trader, but unable to afford the terms offered.

There is a “use it or lose it” rule in the smartnumber system that requires the number to be activated within three years of a licence being granted. Numbers inactive for three years will revert from the licence holder to the ACMA pool for re-release in an auction. The first batch of inactive numbers will revert to the pool in September 2007.

For a list of traders go to: www.ausphone.com.au.

by Max Berry


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