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New Zealand emerges as guinea pig for global tech firms

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Posted June 19, 2013

When Google chose New Zealand to unveil secret plans for a balloon-driven wi-fi network last weekend, it cemented the country’s reputation as a test bed for global tech companies looking to trial their latest innovations, industry experts say.

They said New Zealand, tucked away deep in the southern hemisphere, offers a tech-savvy, English-speaking population where firms such as Google and Facebook can quietly test new products without risking major fallout if anything goes wrong.

“We tend to be early adopters, any technology that reduces the tyranny of distance we’re keen on,” said Malcolm Fraser, chief executive of the Auckland-based Future Cities Institute, who has researched the trend.

“We’re a small market, which means it doesn’t cost that much to test something here and if anything screws up we’re far enough from major markets for it not to have a spillover effect.”

Facebook has enthusiastically used New Zealanders as guinea pigs, last year trialling a scheme where users can pay to make their posts more prominent on friends’ newsfeeds.

It also rolled out its timeline feature first in New Zealand in 2011, saying at the time: “As a global company, we need to gain perspective and insights from outside the US.

Read more at: Phys.org

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