Is it to drive customers online to westfields ?
IF shoppers needed another reason to turn their backs on their local retail stores in favour of the internet, they’ve got it – they are about to be hit with extra parking fees.
Westfield Chatswood will soon cut its three-hour free parking to two hours and slug shoppers up to $6 for staying into the third hour.
The move follows similar policies to other Westfield complexes, where the free parking period has been wound back in suburbs where spots are at a premium including Bondi Junction and Burwood.
Westfield Chatswood had sought to wind back its three-hour free limit and charge a nominal $2 last year, but Willoughby City Council refused the request after a public outcry. The carpark is owned by the council but managed by Westfield.
Under the terms of its contract, if both parties can’t agree on fees they can get an independent valuer to decide a price based on other parking in the area – and the valuer’s determination is final.
Other half-hourly rates will also be increased.The valuer’s report went before last night’s council meeting and, alarmingly for shoppers, determined Westfield could charge $5 up to two and a half hours, $6 up to three hours and $10 up to three and a half hours.
A council spokeswoman said they hoped Westfield would keep to its initial proposal of a nominal $2 for the third hour – but there will be no such luck for shoppers.
Westfield spokeswoman Julia Clarke confirmed yesterday it would increase fees to the valuer’s maximum determination from late May.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said the changes would have a major impact on some retailers.
“Some retailers will be more affected than others,” he said. “If you’re a hairdresser, and you have clients getting their hair dyed, it takes longer than two hours for that. So there are issues around time restrictions.
“If customers are doing a day’s worth of shopping and want to stop for coffee and lunch, they can’t do that in two hours. But there are some, like supermarkets or grocery stores, that could benefit because customers are in and out.”
Pymble mum Angela Pisani said the proposed changes were “horrendous”.
She shops at the centre at least once a week and would consider going elsewhere if the price of parking went up.
“I resent having to pay at all,” she said.
“With retail the way it is that won’t encourage anyone to come and spend money.
“No one will come here.”
Westfield is not alone – a spokesman for rival Stockland said two of its NSW centres had parking fees but stressed there were no plans to start charging elsewhere in the next few years.
CHINA has closed 42 websites and deleted more than 210,000 online posts since March in a crackdown on “internet-based rumours”, state media said today.
The news, announced by the official Xinhua news agency in a brief report, comes as China is rocked by its biggest political crisis in decades with the purge of a top leader from the Communist Party, Bo Xilai, and the detention of his wife, Gu Kailai, on suspicion of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Mr Heywood, a strategic consultant, was found dead in Chongqing last November.
It’s been found guilty of deceptive and misleading conduct in the Federal Court.
It’s the first time that a court anywhere in the world has ruled that Google is liable for civil violations; as Meredith Griffiths reports.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Google is the first stop for most people who need answers. But now the company has been found guilty of misleading or deceptive conduct.
The Federal Court matter relates to four different sets of ads that appeared on Google pages between May 2007 and April 2008.
Rod Sims is the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
ROD SIMS: Essentially, when you typed in the name of a well known company, and the one they caught used most was if you typed in ‘Harvey World Travel’ then you’d be taken to a site that had Harvey World Travel at the top of it. And if you then clicked on the web address sitting below Harvey World Travel you then got taken to the site of STA Travel.
STA Travel had paid Google for the advertising, Harvey World Travel had not. So the conduct is misleading because you are – you think you’re dealing with Harvey World Travel and you end up on an STA website. At best you may think there’s some link between those two when, in fact, there isn’t.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Similar things happened when people searched for “Just 4x4s Magazine”, for Honda or for dog trainers.
The ACCC first took Google to court over the matter in 2007.
Google argued it wasn’t responsible for the misleading effects of the responses, saying it is apparent to the user that Google is not more than a conduit for the advertisers. And the judge ruled that Google did not endorse or adopt the ads
But the ACCC appealed against that.
Rod Sims again.
ROD SIM: We argued first of all that Google had constructed a technology system that, or an algorithm, whatever the relevant term is, that allowed this to happen and actively promoted that.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The Federal Court found that Google’s conduct cannot fairly be described as merely passing on the statements of the advertiser, but Google it is actively responding to an inquiry by a user.
Rod Sims says the ruling is very significant for Australia
ROD SIMS: These sorts of companies are really sort of trying to maximise the advertising. That’s how Google and other online search entities work. And so we’re setting boundaries of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed through this court judgement.
So it’s hugely important given the growth in internet advertising.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: And it could have consequences overseas.
Assistant Professor Ben Edelman studies Google as part of his job with Harvard Business School.
BEN EDELMAN: There have been quite a few disputes elsewhere in the world, primarily in the United States, but this is the first time where a court has ever ruled that Google is liable for the civil violations. The noteworthy rulings have either been previously been either that Google is not liable or that there are exceptions for criminal matters, like drug trafficking.
This is particularly important because it opens the door quite a bit more widely.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Ben Edelman expects this will spark more court cases against Google. But he’s not sure if the internet giant will change its practices overseas.
BEN EDELMAN: Google will try to say that this decision is an outlier, it’s an Australia specific decision; frankly, that it’s a mistake. Google will say that the court got it wrong and that it shouldn’t have to comply with this law worldwide. I wouldn’t be holding my breath for Google to comply with this ruling in the United States anytime soon.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: For a company with the motto ‘don’t be evil’ is this an embarrassing dent to its reputation?
BEN EDELMAN: You know Google’s ads have been pretty evil all along. They’ve had ads that claimed X when they did Y. Ads that promised free ring tones but what you’d get when you went there was neither free nor a ringtone.
It’s been a real thorn in Google’s side because folks have been complaining for the better part of a decade about bad ads. And now, finally, a court is telling Google that they definitely need to do more about this.
MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: In a statement, Google says it is disappointed by the Federal Court’s decision and is reviewing its options.
The company says that it believes that advertisers should be responsible for the ads they, but that ads are removed if they violate Google’s terms and conditions.
At TWMG (The Website Marketing Group), we get many requests from all types of business where people just need to clarify a few things. Here are some thoughts.
In the mobile world, “old age” questions are those we’ve been asking for the last couple of years, like whether to build a mobile app or a website. Now, there’s no question that HTML5 is changing the mobile landscape. Functionality that used to be accessible only through apps is increasingly coming to browsers. Some people think this will eliminate the need and the rationale for apps; others argue that apps still retain key advantages, such as the richest possible user experience, discovery through app stores, total control over branding and “look-and-feel” excitement.
So how do you sort through the pros and cons – and how has HTML5 thrown in a new wrench? Start with a hard look at not only the kind of experience you want to provide your customer base, but at what kind of budgets and resources you have to throw behind your efforts.
Product development and recurrence
If money is a top concern and it’s possible to accomplish what you want in a modern mobile browser, a mobile site is probably the way to go. Native apps will generally be more expensive both to build and to maintain. To begin with, there’s the need to port for multiple operating systems and devices, often by different teams or agencies, since few handle all platforms equally well. Without actually enhancing the app itself, these efforts will drain resources that could otherwise go toward polishing the user experience provided through a browser, or offering more complete features and more interesting products. Updates are also more costly and time-consuming, requiring the development and testing across multiple platforms as well as approval through multiple app stores.
Enter the hybrid approach
With a fully native app, each new release must be ported across multiple devices and operating systems, approved through the app store and downloaded by customers, introducing friction every step of the way.
There are now some great tools for developing mobile sites and applications at the same time, literally. This means your product is accessible to mobile Web users and app store shoppers. If you create your site in HTML5, there are a variety of both open source and commercial tools that will wrap that site with all of the code necessary to run natively, and be submitted to application stores such as iTunes and the Android marketplace. There are also HTML5 authoring tools that allow you to create sites using drag-and-drop interfaces with little to no programming involved. As with all authoring tools, there are going to be some limitations over custom development, but these tools are progressing fast.
Further, with an HTML5-based app, as long as the wrapper stays the same, many product updates no longer require app store approval or customer downloads. These updates become as portable as an update to an HTML5 site. This is especially useful for companies who need to be able to make frequent changes to their app without bugging customers with endless product updates. Netflix, for example, performs constant A/B testing, adding and refining recommendations on an ongoing basis.
The shape of things to come
HTML5 is already having a huge impact, providing an alternative to the platform limitations of Flash and the functional limitations of HTML. YouTube already guides smartphone Web visitors to install a home screen shortcut to its mobile site rather than use the pre-installed YouTube application because it can provide a better user experience through the browser. We work with household brands that are seeing 80-90% of all mobile Web traffic to their sites coming from devices that support most of the key HTML5 features you would need to create a compelling user experience.
Whichever you decide, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, much of your success will always come down to execution. Large companies with extensive resources can still produce mediocre products, and small independent development teams continue to create amazing products that are very successful. Cost control can be equally platform-independent: a poorly managed mobile site initiative can burn through astonishing development resources, while even an elegant and compelling mobile app can be developed efficiently.