Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Now Telstra will tell you where to get off - Business - www.smh.com.au

The Australian Yellow Pages (a true monolopy in every sense of the word) is perhaps the most forward thinking in terms of combining various businesses so that they can become the defacto source for commerce (electronic and telephone initiated) down under. The acquisition of a maps provider is only the latest in a long series of acquisitions. I believe that these Aussies could teach the smarty-pants operators (myself included) a thing or two.

Now Telstra will tell you where to get off - Business - www.smh.com.au: "They have your phone number, your address; now they want to tell you where to go and how to get there. Telstra yesterday gobbled up another source of daily information for Australians, announcing it had bought Universal Publishers, owners of the Gregory's and UBD street directories.

Telstra is the only company that can make money out of the names and addresses of Australians via the White and Yellow Pages, and its specialised online directories. It is also a heavy hitter in classified advertising, following its purchase of the Trading Post earlier this year. And it is still majority owned by the Federal Government.

Now it has entrenched its position in the map market, taking over Universal's street directories, maps, tour guides and atlases, along with extensive urban and regional digital mapping data, all for less than $50 million.

Income from the street directories represents a drop in the bucket for Telstra, which makes millions of dollars a day from its growing portfolio of telecommunications companies, media and advertising businesses. What it is really interested in is the digital data.

With almost a million new cars driving on Australian roads every year, interest in global positioning systems for car navigation is booming. From here on, when drivers download street maps for their GPS, they will pay Telstra.

Mobile phones, another market Telstra dominates, are also set to play a new role as portable navigation gadgets. If Australia's rapid adoption of technology is anything to go by, there could be plenty more money in mapping.

Telstra's latest foray into the media and information market came as the Treasurer, Peter Costello, admitted yesterday that the Government's ownership had not prevented Telstra from abusing its market power.

'I would actually say if the Government has majority ownership and is also the regulat"


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