The Ticker: Modern business life

Netflix finally announces its launch in Australia, but don’t rejoice just yet; Is Australia a dream market for activist shareholders? And the not-to-distant future of Apple Pay

On today's blog:

Got something you would like to add to the blog? Email (harrison.polites@businessspectator.com.au) or get in touch on Twitter.


3pm - The not-to-distant future of Apple Pay

It’s yet to launch outside of the US, but that hasn’t stopped analysts around the world from charting the future course of Apple Pay.

In a note today, Citi Research’s Jim Suva and Asiya Merchant outlined a number of bold predictions on the future of NFC technology and Apple’s payment solution. Here are some of the highlights:

iAd
“Integrating Apple Pay with Apple’s iAd mobile ad network in the form of a tap-to-buy button embedded in mobile ads. This would allow app publishers that work with iAd to generate more mobile ad revenues from their apps.”

iBeacon
“For example, if you pass a beacon in a shop, the retailer's/product manufacturer’s app (assuming you have it installed) could display a special offer alert for you if you pay with Apple Pay. Apple has launched iBeacons in its own stores in US since December last year. Again, the benefits are to drive increased adoption of Apple Pay in physical stores.”

Apple home keys
“Phone-enabled keyless entry systems could gradually be adopted for entry into homes enabling remote entry when the resident is not home.”

Apple hotel keys 
“Apple Pay users will be able to check in (and out) with their iPhone and even adjust their room selection before stepping into the hotel and completely bypass any hotel in person check in process, thereby saving the hotel valuable labour costs at the registration and check out desks as well as completely paperless transactions.”

Apple-inspired workplace security
“Security work access cards are actually quite unsecure as it’s common for employees to lend their work access cards to others. This is unlikely to occur with smartphone fingerprint technology, which can also be more easily adjusted for changes in access rights. Apple can provide a secure work portal for employers so internal development costs by any corporation would be minimal.”


1.50pm - Is Australia entrepreneur-friendly?

By Chris Kohler with AAP, BusinessNow

Australia's reputation for entrepreneurship has taken a hit, with its ranking sliding from third to eighth place over the past 12 months, according to an international survey.

The research, commissioned by international firm Amway, surveyed nearly 44,000 people across 38 countries about the education system's support for entrepreneurship.

When asked about the attitude to entrepreneurship last year, 84 per cent of Australians said it was favoured in their country. This year’s result has slipped to around 64 per cent.


12.20pm - London calling: Working in the UK isn’t as appealing as it used to be

Our columnist Rob Burgess raises an interesting point today in a piece responding to Boris Johnson’s proposal for a ‘labour mobility zone’ that would make it easier for Australians to get work visas for the UK.

Burgess argues that given the economic turmoil facing both Australia and the UK, young people are instead turning their gaze to Asia. This is true, though it is worth noting just how many Australians are still heading over to the UK. In terms of work visas, based on figures from 2012, we’re second only to India. 

That said, the overall numbers of Australians moving to the UK has fallen over time, and in recent years has stagnated. 

Read Rob Burgess’ full piece here.


11.30amIs Australia a dream market for activist shareholders?

What would happen if a successful activist shareholder like Carl Icahn set up shop in Australia? Apparently, up to $80 billion could be reaped in dividends and payouts from pushing and pulling some of our largest companies.

In examining the rise of activist shareholders in Australia, Credit Suisse compiled a list of the top 18 companies that could benefit shareholders from either taking on more debt or a restructure.

Here’s what was found in terms of debt: 

And here are the companies it believes would benefit from a restructure:


10.45am - Netflix finally announces its launch in Australia, but don’t rejoice just yet

"Soon" now means next March. Image: Netflix

After what seems like years of media speculation, US streaming giant Netflix has finally announced that it will launch in Australia in March 2015.

It’s not an entirely unexpected move. Today’s news was foreshadowed by reports of the company courting both ad agencies and content companies in preparation for a launch Down Under.

The announcement is likely to trigger a wave of speculation about the future of the streaming sector in Australia. Most questions will likely revolve around which companies will be put under pressure by the launch, namely Foxtel and local streaming veteran Quickflix and Nine and Fairfax’s new joint venture Stan.

But before we turn our gaze to the wider sector, it’s worth noting that there are a number of questions that remain unanswered in Netflix’s launch announcement that these issues have the potential to threaten the local appeal of the service.

We still don’t know how much Netflix will cost in Australia

Netflix said that this information will be released at a later date. Netflix’s prices vary across different regions -- though they typically fall within a range equivalent to $US6 - $US7. The price will also likely include the $1 price rise Netflix introduced across its service earlier this year.

One would hope that Netflix would keep this rule with its Australian pricing, and in doing so undercut Quickflix, which sells access to its streaming service for $9.99 a month. But the cost of licensing third-party content for Australia may force it to cull its line-up. This brings us to our second point.

We don’t know what content will feature on an Australian version of the service

Again, only a hint of this was mentioned in the launch release. We know that all of Netflix’s own popular series, including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black will be available. The question really revolves around what additional third-party content Netflix will air in Australia.

Netflix’s appeal comes from its vast library of content. Its buffet-style business model is only as effective as the sheer amount of content that’s on offer. But in order to do this legally, it needs to pay the content creators a region-based licensing fee. This is why the service will be launched both in Australia and New Zealand, as, in the content world, we are packaged into the same region. Given our small population, it will be interesting to see how much money the company will pour into stocking its library with third-party material for Australian audiences.

This could mean that while hit shows such as Sons of Anarchy and Dexter are available on the US service, they may not feature in the Australian version of the service.

This is the case in Canada, where a reported one in three Netflix viewers use a VPN or similar proxy service to subscribe to the US version of Netflix despite the streaming service’s launch in Canada back in 2010.

That said, this is exciting news for the streaming sector. Once launched, Netflix’s marketing blitz and innate hype could kick start a larger shift towards streaming in Australia -- one that could see even the most technology-adverse Australians opt to stream their favourite TV shows rather than watching them on the commercial networks. 


9.10am - Interesting reads from around the web

The need for a whistle-blower bounty: Authorities reward corporate whistleblowing in the US, should Australia adopt a similar policy?

Another reason to think before posting: That unintentional Facebook photo that could affect the outcome of your next loan application.

How not to silence the press: Uber is copping global criticism after it was reported to be putting together a research team to dig up dirt and discredit journalists. Also, here’s the reply of the dirt squad’s primary target.

Don’t get attached to your desk: Why hot-desking is on the rise.

Can it pass the senate? Thanks to this handy vote calculator, now you too can see what it takes to get a bill through the upper house.

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